• Ali H.

Wellbeing focused leaders, the rise of servant leadership

Servant leadership considers a holistic approach to leadership, one where people's wellbeing and growth are put first. Servant leaders still focus on organisational performance but do this through the development of their team. Up until recently, there have been rather loose definitions for servant leadership which have hindered its uptake. However, broadly speaking, servant leadership considers others-orientated leadership by prioritising others' individual needs and interests within the organisation. In essence, leaders should want to serve their team!

Why do we want servant leaders? Well, research has suggested many positive outcomes too, individuals, teams and organisations. For example, psychological safety, engagement, satisfaction, psychological wellbeing, creativity, and innovation. Also, the future of work requires more advanced leaders that don't hide within their hierarchy.

More to the point, good leadership can significantly impact people's wellbeing at work and the organisation's impact as a force for good. The newer generation of workers will also expect a lot more from their leaders.

A recent study provided a breakdown of servant leaders' characteristics and competencies, here's a brief outline below.

Personal characteristics

  • Authenticity considers the leader as their true self (in situations), their motivation and consistency. As well as being open to learning from criticism.

  • Humility is a modest leader, aware of their strengths and development needs, and being open to learning experiences.

  • Compassion involves leaders caring for others, empathetic approaches, accepting others for who they are as individuals, and helping or understanding others in hardship.

  • Accountability, a leader that develops responsibility and transparency in teams and monitors performance. Expectations are matched in line with individual capability.

  • Courage considers the leader being open to calculated risk and standing up for what is morally right.

  • Altruism involves others oriented and selfless leadership, as well as have the ability to positively influence others to help them become their best selves. An extension of this is to positively make a difference across the organisation and in their communities.

  • Integrity considers leaders that are honest, fair, and strong moral principles and create an ethical workplace.

  • Listening involves a leader that can actively listen respectfully, and ask questions to create knowledge. It is also suggested that they should be conscious of the unsaid.


  • Empowerment considers leaders that can develop others, personally and professionally. Able to; transfer responsibility and authority to others, set clear direction and boundaries, provide the necessary coaching and mentoring needed, build confidence and wellbeing in people, help people mature emotionally, ethically, and intellectually.

  • Stewardship considers the ability to take accountability for the common interest of the organisation, communities, and individuals to leave a positive legacy as a caretaker.

  • Building relationships, able to create an environment of care, build trustful relationships through effective time with people, communicate effectively, work in collaboration, and understand the needs, potential and aspirations

  • Compelling vision, leaders that can set, translate and execute a higher vision that links the past, current and future needs to create value for the community.

The above provides leaders and organisations with a framework to practically develop their leadership against and consider what aspects you or your leaders currently demonstrate. An exciting combination would be to combine servant leadership with recognising the positive and harmful daily work touchpoints.

We can do more than ask our people to cope as part of a wellbeing strategy. Subscribe to our newsletter, Regenerate, to keep up to date with our latest content.

71 views0 comments