The Power of Servant Leadership

Many companies are turning away from a leadership model based on “charm and charisma”—thanks to the realization that effective leaders tend to have more humility. As the Wall Street Journal recently reported, “Humility is a core quality of leaders who inspire close teamwork, rapid learning and high performance in their teams.… Humble people tend to be aware of their own weaknesses, eager to improve themselves, appreciative of others’ strengths and focused on goals beyond their own self-interest” (October 9, 2018). According to Dr. Ryne Sherman, the chief science officer of a company that designs workplace personality tests, “Most of the thinking suggests leaders should be charismatic, attention-seeking and persuasive.… Yet such leaders tend to ruin their companies because they take on more than they can handle, are overconfident and don’t listen to feedback from others.” Dr. Sherman also observed, “Humble leaders can also be highly competitive and ambitious. But they tend to avoid the spotlight and give credit to their teams… They also ask for help and listen to feedback from others, setting an example that causes subordinates to do the same.”

Few today realize these findings actually reaffirm age-old advice found in the Bible that emphasizes the importance of humility. Both Solomon and Jesus mention that service with humility will bring honor (Proverbs 29:23; Matthew 23:11–12). Jesus Christ, who taught and lived a life of “servant leadership” (Matthew 20:20–28), also stated that the “meek” (those who are humble and teachable) will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). The Bible is filled with directives that focus on the importance of humility, meekness and other related character traits (see Galatians 5:22–23). While “servant leadership” may be a “buzz phrase” among corporations, it is a biblical characteristic of truly godly leaders. For more on this fascinating and very practical topic, be sure to read or listen to “What Is Servant Leadership?