Behaviors that May Seem Inconsistent with Servant Leadership

Servant leaders aren’t pussy cats, doormats, or spineless wonders.

You have the wrong idea if servant leadership makes you think of picking daisies while holding hands.


Servant leaders hunger for success. They don’t stroll into irrelevance.

You put your career in peril if you obstruct a servant leader from achieving their mission.

Express frustration:

Servant leaders use and express frustration.

A little edge in your voice makes everyone perk up. (Use this sparingly, but I think it it’s an important topic when discussing a full view of servant leadership.)

Express frustration when it’s a glowing ember. Don’t allow anger to flare up.

Explosive anger suggests you waited too long to deal with nagging issues. When you don’t listen to anger’s whisper, it yells louder to get your attention.

Tip: Always turn toward the future after expressing frustration with the past.

It might hurt:

When people block mission, servant leaders rise up to protect the best interests of the organization they serve, even when it hurts. Servant leaders serve mission first.

Serving people is guided, limited, and energized by pursuing mission. 

Commitment to mission enables servant leaders to:

  1. Expect high performance from themselves and others. You aren’t a servant leader if you accept mediocrity.
  2. Point out inconsistent behaviors that hold back teams and organizations.
  3. Initiate tough conversations. You aren’t a servant leader if you avoid challenging issues.
  4. Pursue excellence by challenging the status quo.
  5. Confront team members who pull sideways. Servant leaders expect teams to pull together.

Servant leaders face, and when necessary, create discomfort in service to organizational mission.

What behaviors seem inconsistent with servant leadership, but after reflection, belong in the mix?