While servant leadership is a timeless concept, the phrase “servant leadership” was coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in his 1970 essay “The Servant as Leader. Interestingly in Malaysia, the Royal Military College carry in its motto, “Serve to Lead” way back in the founding year of 1952.
Servant Leadership is simply applying leadership principles by serving others before self. Servant leaders are said to be serving stewards of their organisation’s resources be it physically, financial or human. Servant leadership is a model that transforms teams and organisations by putting people first. It is more than just a philosophy— it is a daily practice of behaviours. When you participate in behaviours that do not align with your values, you are communicating mixed messages and inauthenticity to your team. Leading well requires trust. When your team trusts you, the possibilities are endless.
A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid”, servant leadership is different. The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.
Servant Leadership, in short, accentuates the importance of collaboration, trust, empathy and the ethical use of power and leadership. It is about enhancing the growth of individuals and the servant leaders themselves in the organisation to improve teamwork and respective involvement.