Servant Leadership In Action

In every situation, servant leadership evolves from our best leadership intentions. As leaders, we strive to be consistent, but circumstances can create the need to be more directly involved than we really want to be. In our daily efforts to complete the endless tasks that support the business, the greatest challenge is in conveying our trust to others while noticing every detail.



The leader who can measure, monitor, adjust and control while letting the team manage most of the routine has found the balance between involvement and trust. Just as everything is running smoothly, the next challenge will upset the entire day. In those moments, the best leaders will overreach.

“The trust of the people in the leaders reflects
the confidence of the leaders in the people.”
~ Paulo Freire




Self-control is demonstrated in the servant leader who encounters the unexpected with a measured response that the team can trust. Without any accusation, the team will discover what happened and openly admit to mistakes made. All focus will remain on the work without placing blame or looking for the one at fault.


Once the dust clears, the team will be allowed to investigate and discover the cause of the issues. Great leaders realize that the team can self-correct without much intervention. A brief report will be filed and the leader will accept recommendations from the people who are responsible for the daily routine.

Should the servant leader intervene and hand down the response?



Maybe the thought of allowing the team to address most situations where mistakes were made and corrections are necessary sounds crazy when the more comfortable approach is to jump in and take control. Unless absolutely necessary, the wise leader knows that trust is built in the daily routine. Before anything can go wrong, the leader observes the team and ensures that small issues are addressed.



Simple situations set the stage for how to would handle a significant event. The team will expect the leader to follow the same series of steps. If that does not happen, the trust can be broken in one instant. Wisdom challenges us to practice our responses before the team actually needs our help.

So what does the servant leader when something major arises
and lives or property are at risk?

To avoid overstepping, the servant leader will work through the team to address most situations. With enough questions, the leader can enter into the situation and take appropriate action without seeming to be a control freak. In serious situation, the leader has every right to switch to a command and control leadership style.

The key is to communicate with everyone involved.


Whenever the servant leader appears to be overreaching, the team is wise to Ask More Questions. So many conversations can happen in the moments that follow the event. As members of great teams, open communication is the normal mode of operation. Even when situations demand more intervention, the team can be of help while handling the daily routine and accepting assignments from the busy leader.


Servant Leadership Builds Trust


Trust is important in the wake of any situation where we want to assume the worst of someone taking action. Even though we have experienced ‘better leaders,’ the one we have deserves all the help we can offer. Leaders do the best they can for the team, customers and business in the wake of the unexpected.

What would shake your trust in a leader?




As we develop our servant leadership skills, the examples and comparisons will allow us to measure our own mastery of these important leadership traits. With basic knowledge of the daily business routine, we can begin to build trust that the team is doing well and able to handle the expected.

The team will continue to trust leaders as we stretch their skills and abilities while we push them into new areas. Our responses will be consistent if we have trust in the team to respond when we ask them to do so. Every leader has a way to measure trust on both sides, and in crisis the trust will be tested on both sides.

“Trust is built with consistency.”
~ Lincoln Chafee