Here in America, organizational success is defined by winning—often without regard to how it affects people. Employees are often described as capital. Human capital. Servant Leadership, a model that has been studied for over two centuries, defines success very differently.
The original Teacher of Servant Leadership is quoted as saying; “Whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you have done for me.” I read this as almost completely the opposite of the concept of human capital!

In 1970, a man named Robert K. Greenleaf published the now-classic essay, The Servant as Leader. In it he describes servant leadership by saying,

The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions… The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.

The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?”

What a wonderfully academic definition! At The Lively Merchant, we strive to be far more plain spoken about how servant leadership really works within today’s difficult society and the organizations that are trying to grow and prosper within it.

Here are eight simple traits of servant leadership:

  1. Focuses on the needs of others NOT the likes of the leader
  2. Secure enough in their position to INVEST trust in others
  3. Does what others are NOT WILLING to do
  4. Focus on PEOPLE not just goals
  5. Allows others to take the PEDESTAL
  6. Takes time to know PEOPLE
  7. Understands giving ENCOURAGEMENT & EDIFICATION
  8. Sees the needs to DEVELOP people not just generate profits



If you would like to discuss how servant leadership can be implemented for a real win in your organization, please call me at 899-549-9206, ext. 1, or email me at