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We explore servant leadership as a philosophy and set of practices to enrich lives, build better organizations and create a more just and caring world

The term servant-leadership was first made popular by Robert Greenleaf in 1970, but the idea can be traced as far back as Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching from the 5th century BCE.

Servant leadership is a philosophy and set of practices that enrich the lives of individuals, build better organizations, and ultimately create a more just and caring world. – Robert K Greenleaf (1970)
The concept of the servant-leader is often associated with a project’s Scrum Master, a person who serves as a facilitator for a project team.
Scrum is the name of a development framework in which project teams self-organize and self-manage their own work. It is one type of Agile methodology and will be introduced in Week 3 of this course.
The role of the Scrum Master is to help a team be successful by coaching the team on scrum practices and fulfilling the role of a servant-leader by removing impediments that would otherwise slow the team down.
Servant-leaders are not motivated by power. They gain satisfaction by helping their team be successful. Similar to a leader who tries to create a psychologically safe environment, the servant-leader uses good questions and listening skills to develop team members.

Servant-leader characteristics

According to one source, there are 10 traits to a servant-leader:


Read the following article to gain a deeper insight into these ten characteristics of the servant-leader that are of critical importance:

What are your thoughts?

“The servant-leader is servant first…the feeling that one wants to serve.” – Robert K Greenleaf (1970)
  • Do some research and find one well-known thought leader and advocate of servant leadership. Share your thought leader with your peers.
  • What servant leadership ethos does your thought leader promote?
  • Thinking about these characteristics, how would you develop your servant-leadership skills to become an effective servant-leader?
Use the Comments section below and let us know your thoughts. Try to respond to at least one other post and once you are happy with your contribution, click the Mark as complete button to check the step off, then you can move to the next step.

It is strongly believed that servant-leader organizations have the ability to change the world. What do you believe? Let’s head on over to the next step, and discuss fixed and growth mindsets in more detail.

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