Servant leadership. We hear this term all the time – in inspirational Linkedin posts and management seminars…but what does it really mean?
A Google search will bring you to any number of definitions. Most of them center around leaders who care about those around them—their employees, their superiors, AND their equals. They have a commitment to the growth of people and are obsessive about effective communication and teamwork. Servant leaders don’t seek power, they cultivate great leadership by empowering others.
A servant leader is someone who understands that true success comes by elevating their people.
I’d need 15 posts to explain to you how important I think it is for effective leaders to have a servant leader focus. So, instead, here are a few highlights:
- Their teams are often warm and welcoming
- They help develop team members toward successful careers
- They understand the value of empathy in the workplace
- They motivate by sharing success with the team
- They lead by standing by or behind their team—not ruling from above
When you look for servant leadership quotes, what do you look for? Personally, I look for three things: motivation, inspiration, and a reminder of why I do things the way I do.
Whether you’re already a servant leader, hope to become one, or are just learning about this leadership approach, these quotes can help you wherever you are on your journey.
With that in mind, here are my FAVORITE QUOTES quotes about servant leadership!
One of your primary roles as a leader is one of support—elevating your team members up when they are struggling; developing them into their best selves; driving engagement, and motivating them to their top performance. By serving others, you gain valuable insights into how to approach situations differently. This provides invaluable experience for a servant leader!
I’ve heard that there are two ways to build the tallest building: either you build the tallest building or you tear down all the other buildings. If employees feel disrespected or that their contributions are not valued, they often become disengaged. But when you build others up, they are more likely to succeed—then, not only can you feel accomplished as a leader, their success can motivate you to work even harder!
John C. Maxwell
Great leaders project a vision of caring and shared success. This is mission-critical for keeping team members self-motivated and productive. When your team feels that you care about their success and wellbeing just as much as they do, they are more likely to go above and beyond.
H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
I’ll keep saying it, in case you missed it the first time—success at the expense of others goes against the fabric of our humanity. Success breeds success. When you serve others, you’re inviting success to the entire team. And that benefits everyone—including you!
Robert K. Greenleaf
Human beings have what is called the “compassion instinct.” Studies show that human empathy is a trait that developed about 6 million years ago. This served to ensure the survival of our species. We are biologically wired to have compassion and care for others.
If you are naturally attracted to the servant leadership style, it may be instinctual.
James C. Hunter
This is so powerful because it underscores so much of what I’ve been trying to say: the servant leader is attracted to the responsibilities of a leadership position. Traditional leadership often overlooks this. The desire to serve comes with the understanding that you are accountable for solving problems and improving the workplace for your team.
Sheila Murray Bethel
Once your desires become more important than your team, your goals change. The leaders set the tone of the workplace. Once that tone changes and your team feels a lack of support, morale, and productivity could drop. True leadership is about building a community where team members feel respected, empowered, and share a common vision.
Actions speak louder than words. Good leaders understand that in order to be the messenger, you’ve got to live the message. Their actions help the team imagine the possibilities.
Mahatma Gandhi is on the right track here, and the science backs it up. Research has shown that helping others also helps yourself. Human beings who engage in prosocial behavior tend to be happier than those who are not. They also are more likely to have improved physical and mental health.
Leaders don’t exist to benefit themselves, they exist to lead, service, and benefit others. Unless you listen to what those people need and want, how can you possibly be their advocate?
That brings us to one of the most important servant leadership skills: