Are you ready to be the type of consultant and leader who is focused on giving priority attention to the needs of others?

One of the world’s foremost authorities on the qualities of leadership was Robert Greenleaf, a visionary student of what made people tick.  He was an amateur painter and astronomer, an organic gardener and jeweler, and as for his work, a successful business executive and professor at Harvard, MIT, and Dartmouth College.  Along the way, he pioneered the concepts of “servant leadership” as later practiced by Stephen Covey and Ken Blanchard, and embraced by Southwest Airlines and Starbucks.
 
According to Robert Greenleaf, there are ten qualities of a servant leader.  This week we’ll explore five of them, and we’ll take a look at the other five next week.


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We’ll begin with this quotation attributed to Greenleaf:
 
“A servant leader is one who chooses to serve, and serve first.” He went on to say, “That person is sharply different from one who is leader first.”  In short, a servant leader helps others grow.
 
Here are the first five qualities of a servant leader:
 
A servant leader listens before acting.  How often have we “jumped to a conclusion” without knowing the full story?  A leader carefully evaluates what she is told, and gathers all the facts, before making a decision – or a judgment.
 
They strive to understand the needs of others.  Everyone has motivations.  Some members of your team crave recognition.  Others desire to have friends.  When we understand what someone wants, we can help her achieve it.
 
Servant leaders are a force for healing and well-being.  When we listen, truly listen, and when we begin to understand what another person desires, we can be there for them, when they need encouragement, or just someone to share their burden.  Everyone we meet has concerns, worries, or fears.  What can you do to be a force for healing?
 
Servant leaders are aware of what is happening around them, and are equally aware of their own strengths, weaknesses, and feelings.  Minutes before welcoming your group into your home for a sales meeting, you argue with your teenage daughter about observing a Friday night curfew.  Will these feelings of frustration carry over to color your demeanor as you open the meeting?  
 
A servant leader builds consensus and relies on persuasion.  They never give orders.  Rather, a servant leader suggests, and places others in positions to make beneficial choices.