Servant vs. Reactive Leaders

by Dominic Gadoury

Am I and those around me Servant vs. Reactive Leaders? This was a topic on my favorite Agile podcast this past week that got me thinking. I guess we should first define each first.

According to the Center for Servant Leadership, servant leadership is a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world.

Reactive Leadership on the other hand occurs when you don’t plan ahead to handle problems or opportunities. By reacting to situations only as they arise, you may fail to avoid a crisis or exploit a chance to succeed. If your organization lacks formal policies and procedures, you may find yourself doomed to making on-the-spot decisions that reflect inconsistent and incoherent leadership.

As an employee who has been on the receiving end of each, I can say with confidence that I am happier and more productive with a servant leader. As a leader now myself, it causes me to wonder if I am taking care of those around me? Am I doing some of things to lead with that question at the forefront:

  1. Listening. I’ll serve people better when I make a deep commitment to listening intently to them and understanding what they’re saying.
  2. Empathy. Servant leaders strive to understand other people’s intentions and perspectives.
  3. Healing. Am I healing the relationships of those around me and providing an environment that allows that to occur.
  4. Self-Awareness. Am I being honest about my strengths and weaknesses and taking risks by sharing those with those around me?
  5. Persuasion. Am I using my power of debate class from college to help people see a vision that I and other leaders above me do?
  6. Conceptualization. Am I helping draw a clear picture of who we are, where we want to go and how we want to get there?

What other servant leadership qualities do you look for and try to develop?

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