Skip main navigation

The challenges of servant leadership

This article looks at some of the challenges that can accompany savant leadership.

In the previous steps, you learned about servant leadership and how it contributes to developing followers. Now that you became knowledgeable about servant leadership, it’s time to reflect on the potential challenges associated to this leadership style so can you handle them properly.

The success of servant leadership depends on the culture of the organisation and particularly the extent to which the culture is human oriented, and the degree to which it accepts and endorses an unequal distribution of power and status privileges.

Additionally, while servant leadership may appear to be a better alternative to traditional leadership, it comes with several challenges that leaders need to be aware of:


As servant leaders are dedicated to serving their followers by putting their needs before their own and using empathy intensively, they are more prone to physical and mental fatigue.


Servant leaders trust their followers and seek to empower them, which provides an ideal opportunity for opportunistic and manipulative followers to take advantage of the situation and gain personal advantage.

Decreased motivation:

Having a leader who intervenes and helps can affect the motivation of some followers and encourage them to slow down and not give their all. This has the effect of reducing the productivity of the group and encouraging some not to assume their responsibilities.

Silo effect:

With the leader’s focus on the needs of its group, the needs of the organisation itself can be diminished as this situation could create silos. Followers tend to develop more loyalty to their leader and team than to the organisation as a whole.

Reflect & Reply

Please reflect upon the key question below and respond using the comments section below.

Considering the context of your organisation or team, what are the challenges that you may face a servant leader?
This article is from the free online

How to Harness Followership for Leadership Success

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now