DEFINITION of 'Servant Leadership'

A leadership philosophy in which an individual interacts with others - either in a management or fellow employee capacity - with the aim of achieving authority rather than power. The authority figure intends to promote the well-being of those around him/her. Servant leadership involves the individual demonstrating the characteristics of empathy, listening, stewardship and commitment to personal growth toward others.

BREAKING DOWN 'Servant Leadership'

Servant leadership seeks to move management and personnel interaction away from "controlling activities" and toward a more synergistic relationship between parties. The term "servant leadership" was coined by Robert Greenleaf, a twentieth century researcher who was skeptical about traditional leadership styles that focused on more authoritarian relationships between employers and employees.

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