Episode 6 Show Notes:

The Top 10 Things Servant Leaders Do


A quick review of Servant Leadership and the 5 Characteristics of a Servant Leader:


  1. A servant leader serves first and leads second.
  2. People don’t want to work at a top down, command and control, “do it because I said so” organization. They want to feel emotionally safe at work.
  3. Servant Leadership is a lifestyle and not a leadership hack
  4. There are five characteristics that an effective servant leader displays.
  5. Those five characteristics are: First, a true servant leader is humble.
  6. Second, displays integrity at all times.
  7. Third, a servant leader is passionate about helping others grow.
  8. Fourth, if you want to be an effective servant leader you encourage participation that makes people feel safe. You can do this through being approachable, visible and having a predictable mood.
  9. Fifth, you inspire others through influence rather than position.  


The 10 Things that Servant Leaders Do:

1) Listen

    • Full focus. No devices.
    • Really feeling HEARD is VERY RARE.
    • How? Listen without thinking about what you are going to say when the other person stops talking. Listening with the intent to respond is NOT listening.



2) Show Empathy

    • Recognize and accept the people for their uniqueness and try to understand their point of view. 
    • Remember that this person is a human being first and a teacher or parent second.
    • How? Pretend that you are putting on a pair of magic glasses that are unique to that individual. They let you see, hear and think the way that person does.



3) Provide Healing

  • You may not think it is fair to inherit all of the problems that go along with this person.
  • Servant leaders recognize that they have an opportunity to make people whole
  • When you lead, you have a responsibility to heal.
  • How? Have a predictable mood and apologize when you mess up.


4) Show Awareness

  • You must have a really good understanding of your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Your level of patience, your temper, your mood, your communications style and how it is received.
  • You must set aside your ego and accept feedback from your coworkers or Board President or Head of School.
  • How? Create an anonymous feedback form for your staff to give feedback on your leadership.


5) Use Persuasion

  • Servant leaders rely on persuasion NOT their positional authority.
  • Seek consensus and buy-in through collaboration and persuasion rather than by exerting your power and authority.
  • How? Ask more than you tell.


6) Demonstrate Conceptual Thinking

    • A servant leader must always view things through the lens of “where are we going as a school?”
    • Servant leaders are called to seek a delicate balance between conceptual thinking and a day-to-day operational approach.
    • How? Schedule one hour each week to work on things that are going to happen more than one year in the future.



7) Display Foresight

    • Learn from the past and apply it to the future so that your team and your school can grow.
    • When the Navy SEALS conclude a mission, they ALWAYS file an AAR (After Action Report). The SEALS talk about what went well, what did not go well, what they can do better the next time. Rank goes out the window and the SEALS can say anything.
    • How? Make it a practice to debrief after events like Grandparents Day, the Winter Concert, Standardized Testing, Field Day, etc.



8) Practice Good Stewardship

    • The responsible planning and management of resources (including time, energy, money, facilities).
    • Stewardship also means that your leadership is ethical and authentic.
    • How? Every time that you use school resources, ask yourself this question, “Is this decision in the best interest of my students?”



9) Commit to Helping Your People Grow

    • You must be fully invested in helping your people grow professionally and emotionally. 
    • This means that you take an interest in what is going on in their lives outside of school.
    • How? Provide meaningful professional development for your people. Be creative. PD does not have to cost a lot of money, but it does take time to plan and execute.



10) Build Community

    • Servant Leaders recognize the desire for connection in their school and they intentionally build a strong school community with strong relationships.
    • You also have to recognize that there is a difference between a team and a community.
    • How? Provide opportunities for social interaction AND meaningful collaboration.



If you implement these strategies at your school, I would love to hear from you! Send me a quick note at mark.[email protected] and tell me about it. I can answer your questions and I’m also good at giving pep talks when you get stuck!


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Music by Twisterium from Pixabay