What Is Servant Leadership? - Definition, Characteristics & Examples

Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:00 Definition of Servant…
  • 0:22 Characteristics of…
  • 2:02 Examples
  • 2:57 Lesson Summary
Create An Account
To Start This Course Today
Used by over 10 million students worldwide
Create An Account
Try it free for 5 days
Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley
Servant leadership is a style of leadership studied by contemporary management theorists. In this lesson, you will learn what servant leadership is, its characteristics, and be provided some examples. You will have an opportunity to reinforce your knowledge with a short quiz after the lesson.

Definition of Servant Leadership

A servant leader leads by serving others. In other words, servant leaders place the interests and needs of their followers ahead of their own self-interests and needs. Generally, they value the development of their followers, building their communities, acting authentically, and sharing power.

Characteristics of Servant Leadership

Several scholars have compiled characteristics of a servant leader, including:

  • Active Listening - Servant leaders actively listen to their followers. Active listening is a communication method where the listener listens and provides feedback to the speaker to ensure that the listener understands what is being communicated.
  • Empathy - They have the ability to empathize. Empathy is the ability to detect and understand emotions being felt by others.
  • Healer - Servant leaders have the ability to 'heal' themselves and their followers through creating a sense of well-being.
  • Awareness - They are generally aware of the environment and issues affecting their organization and its members.
  • Persuasion - Servant leaders influence others through persuasion rather than through exercise of authority or coercion.
  • Foresight - Servant leaders have the ability to foresee consequences of events or actions involving their organization and its members.
  • Conceptualization - They can conceptualize their vision and goals into strategies and objects that serve the organization and its members.
  • Stewardship - They are stewards, which means they view their position as having a caretaking responsibility over their organization and members as opposed to dominion over them.
  • Commitment to Growth and Emancipation - Servant leaders are personally committed to the personal and professional growth of their followers.
  • Community Building - They are committed to building a sense of community and mutual commitment between themselves, the organization and its members.


The best way to understand the concept of servant leaders is probably to examine some famous historical leaders that fit the model. Perhaps the easiest example is Jesus Christ as described in the four gospels of the Christian religion. A more contemporary figure that matches the prototype is the Dalai Lama.

Some historical political figures fit the model as well. A good example of a political leader that demonstrated servant leadership was Mahatma Gandhi. Martin Luther King, Jr. also displayed many of the characteristics of a servant leader.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 10 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member

Already a member? Log In

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 49 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,000 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Click "next lesson" whenever you finish a lesson and quiz. Got It
You now have full access to our lessons and courses. Watch the lesson now or keep exploring. Got It
You're 25% of the way through this course! Keep going at this rate,and you'll be done before you know it.
The first step is always the hardest! Congrats on finishing your first lesson.
Way to go! If you watch at least 30 minutes of lessons each day you'll master your goals before you know it.
Congratulations on earning a badge for watching 10 videos but you've only scratched the surface. Keep it up!
You've just watched 20 videos and earned a badge for your accomplishment!
You've just earned a badge for watching 50 different lessons. Keep it up, you're making great progress!
You just watched your 100th video lesson. You have earned a badge for this achievement!
Congratulations! You just finished watching your 200th lesson and earned a badge!
Congratulations! You just finished watching your 300th lesson and earned a badge!
You are a superstar! You have earned the prestigious 500 video lessons watched badge.
Incredible. You have just entered the exclusive club and earned the 1000 videos watched badge.
You have earned a badge for watching 20 minutes of lessons.
You have earned a badge for watching 50 minutes of lessons.
You have earned a badge for watching 100 minutes of lessons.
You have earned a badge for watching 250 minutes of lessons.
You have earned a badge for watching 500 minutes of lessons.
You have earned a badge for watching 1000 minutes of lessons.