How to Spot an Authentic Servant Leader

In 2002 Pastor Rick Warren wrote an outstanding book entitled “The Purpose Driven Life.” I will always remember the very first sentence in the book… “It’s not about you.”

Every Authentic Servant Leader I’ve ever met, and I’ve been fortunate to meet a few, lived their leadership according to that simple sentence. They intentionally keep the focus on the accomplishments of the people they lead. They don’t simply share credit for success, they humbly give it all away. 

Authentic Servant Leaders measure their success by the success of their people. The goal of an Authentic Servant Leader is to grow people, to help them be “better” in every way a person can be better. 

They invest a piece of themselves in every person they lead. The do not prejudge anyone. They recognize that every individual has strengths and gifts. They work to make certain that their people are in positions where they can use their strengths. They do not set their people up to fail. 

Authentic Servant Leaders come in all shapes and sizes. They come in all colors and they can be a man or a woman. They can be old or young. They can come from the finest of formal educations or have a completely informal education. An Authentic Servant Leader could be almost anyone. But they are still easy to spot. 

You know one when you see one because they are they ones who through every word, every action and every interaction SHOW that they understand, without a doubt, that their leadership is not about them. It’s is always and only about the people they lead. 

If you aspire to be an Authentic Servant Leader then always always keep in mind, “It’s not about you.”

3 thoughts on “How to Spot an Authentic Servant Leader

  1. Steve,
    I went into a profession in 1962 that was focused on servant leadership and serving the needs of others, continued in that mode by shifting into educational leadership about the time that Robert Greenleaf published “The Servant Leader” in 1970.

    Whether or not I have been effective and authentic as a servant leader I leave to others’ assessment of my work over a 60 year career. My role in this late stage as a Life Coach is a continuation of serving others as they seek to design and implement changes for a better, more meaningful life. Many of them are motivated to also help others and for that, I am enormously grateful.

    1. Hi Gary, first I have no doubt that you’ve both effective and authentic. I know as well exactly how you feel, Authentic Servant Leaders leave a legacy and that legacy is more Authentic Servant Leaders.

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