Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

The Many Faces Of Servant Leadership

Jeff Adams, Ph.D., has a very interesting and worthwhile blog that helps him share his personal thoughts with members of his congregation and others, around the world.  A few days ago he wrote a post in which he mentioned Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses. I commented on that and he used my comment as the basis for a post on leadership, which is certainly worth reading no matter what your work setting or work role.  

Dr. Jeff Adams, a Servant Leader.

Jeff is a tremendous presenter and writer, exceptionally fluent in Spanish from his many years in Central and South America, and busy, busy, busy, all over the globe. Although he is an admired and respected pastor and sought after as an international speaker, board member, advisor, and participant in many projects and events, I do not know a more humble person than Jeff. I also do not know anyone who is more calming, peaceful and accepting of others–while having a black belt in Shotokan karate and being outspoken and assertive about his faith and what he believes to be right. He is truly a Servant Leader–referring to the concept developed by Robert Greenleaf.                                                      



The Characteristics of Servant Leadership:

  • Listening
  • Empathy
  • Healing
  • Awareness
  • Persuasion
  • Conceptualization
  • Foresight
  • Stewardship
  • Commitment to the growth of others 
  • Building community

A Servant Leader is not a weak person, uncomfortable in a role of responsibility and doing everything for others while requiring little of them. A Servant Leader is competent, strong, confident, and willing to take responsibility and share it. However, a strong leader who is a servant first is quite different than a strong leader who is a leader first.

You have likely met many people who seem to strive for Leader-First Leadership, meaning: Rank, role, title, control, power, and influence. Those are not all bad aspirations, but often result in a self-centered focus. I hope you are as fortunate as I am to know many people who are Servant Leaders.

Ironically, I doubt most of them realize that is what they are. They spend their lives helping others become leaders and making things better in their work groups and organizations, while setting high standards for themselves and others, and providing an environment of achievement. They work steadily, with a focus on we and us, and you and me, together. However, I can assure you they do it while still having healthy personal and professional egos!

You may think your personality and style do not readily fit into the mold of a Servant Leader, because of the connotation of the word servant.  Look at that list of characteristics again. I would imagine you fulfill many of them very well–and the others could be added with some purposeful effort. I’m going to make that effort in the coming weeks and months.

One of the things I thought, as I wrote this post, is that I don’t have to be exactly like Jeff Adams (as if I could!) to have some of his fine character and leadership traits. You do not have to be exactly like anyone you admire, either. There are many faces of Servant Leadership. One of them can be yours.

March 10th, 2008 Posted by | Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development, Supervision and Management | 5 comments


  1. So that’s the famous Jeff Adams you talk about? Looks like a nice man!I have heard of Servant Leadership but didn’t know what it was. Thanks for the summary list. Good thoughts! D.

    Comment by denisek | March 11, 2008

  2. Wow! You managed to sum my dad up pretty well in such a short paragraph.

    Comment by Rebekah | March 11, 2008

  3. I have known only a few people I thought fit the description of Servant Leader. May I say, I think you do? As you reminded us, look at the list. Dr. Adams seems like a very impressive pastor. I wish I lived near Kansas City. Maybe not, 🙂 but I could visit.

    BTW, I like your site. R.L.

    Comment by ITGUY | March 11, 2008

  4. What a perfect way to sum up those qualities! I know a few people like Jeff, and always feel that time spent with them is an amazing relief from daily stress. Even if just a five minute conversation, they can instantly change your perspective and give you a sense that all is right with the world. Imagine if more of us could be like that!
    I’m sending your post, and Jeff’s on to a few other Servant Leaders I know. Thanks~

    Comment by Shannon | March 12, 2008

  5. Tina, this was thought provoking for me, because I sometimes have said I was a Servant Leader, but looking at the list, and your remarks, I realize I may need to do some work. Your pastor friend seems like a good example, and I agree with ITGUY, whoever he/she may be, I think you fit the description. Don’t sell yourself short. This might be a good class to teach? LMV

    Comment by LMV | March 12, 2008

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