Six Characteristics of Servant Leadership

Dan Hurt

April 7, 2023

Six Characteristics of Servant Leadership

Servant leadership is about putting others first and ensuring they are happy and productive at work. Companies adopting servant leadership principles focus on building environments and support structures that foster high levels of employee engagement, which has been shown to increase performance by 73%.

Servant leaders are known for being compassionate and empathetic listeners. They help their team members heal from past toxic workplace experiences and allow them to grow as individuals.

Empathy and Understanding

Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand their perspective. This is essential for a healthy relationship with others, especially in business and at work.

This empathy can help you better connect with team members and clients. It can also improve your leadership skills.

You can increase your empathy through various tactics, including practicing empathy-based communication and conflict-resolution strategies. You can also work with a qualified therapist to build and strengthen your ability to empathize.


Foresight is the ability to plan for and forecast future events. This is a critical skill for servant leaders to have as they lead their teams toward a brighter future.

Foresight is a key characteristic of transformational leadership that many leaders struggle with. But with practice and experience, it becomes a natural part of the process.


Listening is an important soft skill that helps employees communicate effectively and avoid misunderstandings. It also helps them build productive relationships and collaborate with their coworkers.

Effective listening involves attention, comprehension, and recollection of the relayed information. It also requires curiosity and motivation to understand the message being communicated.

If you aren’t sure whether or not you have good listening skills, ask someone close to you for feedback. This can help you identify any areas that need improvement.


Unlike most traditional leadership styles, servant leaders prioritize team members’ long-term growth and development. They empower their teams and create an environment where people feel comfortable and supported.

Stewardship is a characteristic of servant leadership that emphasizes a sense of responsibility for the organization and its impact on society. It entails oversight over everything from team performance to the overall organization.

Servant leadership also requires foresight, which entails using previous knowledge, experiences, and trends to improve future decisions. Foresight often involves listening to what team members are saying and using their intuition to inform decisions.


A sense of community is one of the most important characteristics of servant leadership. Developing a culture of collaboration and mutual support among employees helps them achieve their goals and improves productivity.

Robert Greenleaf first articulated the concept of community in his essay “The Servant as Leader.”

He noted that servant leaders take their leadership role to serve others. This differs from traditional leadership, where leaders aim to gain control of an organization or stakeholder groups quickly to achieve personal advancement, often to meet their desires and ambitions.

Stewardship is an important trait of servant leaders because they can proactively manage resources and responsibilities within the organization. Based on this knowledge, they can also foresee trends and future events and produce critical plans.


A servant leader puts people first and helps them meet their goals. They also work to strengthen relationships, support diversity, equity, and inclusion, and navigate conflict in the workplace.

Compassion is understanding another person’s experience and empathizing with their suffering. It’s a mental process that involves both cognitive and affective elements.

The five elements that make up compassion can be identified as Recognizing suffering; Understanding the universality of suffering in human experience; Feeling empathy for the suffering individual (emotional resonance); Tolerating uncomfortable feelings aroused in response to the suffering; and Acting to alleviate suffering.