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50 Servant Leadership Quotes to Help You Be a Good Leader

These servant leadership quotes will help you better understand what this leadership philosophy is all about.

In short, it is a leadership style and philosophy where they embody a decentralized organizational structure.

An individual interacts with others—either in a management or co-worker capacity—to achieve authority.

These leaders prefer authority over power.

Researchers Adam Focht and Michael Ponton identified 12 characteristics of servant leadership in their paper Identifying Primary Characteristics of Servant Leadership.

Out of those 12 characteristics, five were agreed upon by the scholars they polled.

The most prominent characteristics of servant leadership are: Valuing People, Humility, Listening, Trust, and Caring.

These sound like amazing qualities for anyone to have!

However, they are especially important for leaders.

Keep reading through these servant leadership quotes to learn more about how leaders use these traits to be the most effective leaders they can be!

Servant leadership quotes from servant leaders

1. “The only test of leadership is that somebody follows.” — Robert K. Greenleaf

2. “Servant leadership is easy for people with high self-esteem.” — Ken Blanchard

3. “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” — Ken Blanchard

4. “A true natural servant automatically responds to any problem by listening first.” ― Robert Greenleaf

5. “I stand here before you not as a prophet, but as a humble servant of you, the people.” Nelson Mandela

6. “I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.” — Mahatma Gandhi

7. “The first and most important choice a leader makes is the choice to serve, without which one’s capacity to lead is severely limited.” — Robert Greenleaf

8. “One of the topics I’m most passionate about is servant leadership—the greatest leaders recognize that they’re here to serve, not to be served.” — Ken Blanchard

9. “Servant leadership always empathizes, always accepts the person, but sometimes refuses to accept some of the person’s effort or performance as good enough.” — Robert K. Greenleaf

10. “Servant leadership is all about making the goals clear and then rolling your sleeves up and doing whatever it takes to help people win. In that situation, they don’t work for you; you work for them.” ― Ken Blanchard

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Short servant leadership quotes

11. “Leadership is about being a servant first.” — Allen West

12. “Serving others prepares you to lead others.” ― Jim George

13. “We must serve before we can lead.” — William Arthur Ward

14. “The real power lies in service to others.” — Cheryl Bachelder

15. “If leadership serves only the leader, it will fail.” — Sheila Murray

16. “He who is not a good servant will not be a good master.” Plato

17. “Servant leadership propels organizational success.” — Ken Blanchard

18. “Servant Leadership begins with self-examination.” — Cheryl Bachelder

19. “Good leaders must first become good servants.” — Robert K. Greenleaf

20. “The servant leader believes that ‘my success is your success.’” ― Unknown

Inspirational servant leadership quotes

21. “We don’t create value in the world, except by serving.” — John Stahl-wert

22. “The heart of the leader is manifested through service to others.” ― Artika Tyner

23. “The best leaders are servant leaders – they serve those they lead.” — Tony Hsieh

24. “Bosses push, Leaders pull. Real leadership is servant leadership.” Dave Ramsey

25. “Serving people means growing their capacity and implies that everyone can contribute.” ― Juana Bordas

26. “Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.” — Simon Sinek

27. “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” — Lao Tzu

28. “It’s not about trying to find something to help you be a more effective leader. It’s about trying to be a better person. The other will follow.” ― James A

29. “The servant-leader is the 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.” ― Robert K. Greenleaf

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30. “Servant-leadership is more than a concept, it is a fact. Any great leader, by which I also mean an ethical leader of any group, will see herself or himself as a servant of that group and will act accordingly.” ― M. Scott Peck

Thought-provoking servant leadership quotes

31. “If you want to lead the people, you must learn how to follow them.” Lao Tzu

32. “The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people.” ― Woodrow Wilson

33. “Organizations exist to serve. Period. Leaders live to serve. Period.” — Tom Peters

34. “Servant leadership teaches us that you have to lay your cards on the table.” — Warren G. Bennis

35. “I believe that government is the servant of the people and not their master.” — David Rockefeller

36. “One of the best ways I can show my son to be a servant leader is to serve my wife.” — Matt Tenney

37. “Money is in some respects life’s fire: it is a very excellent servant, but a terrible master.” P. T. Barnum

38. “Servant leadership is the foundation and the secret of Sam Walton’s ability to achieve team synergy.” — Michael Bergdahl

39. “There is great joy in leading with authority, which is serving others by meeting their legitimate needs.” — James C. Hunter

40. “The true heroes of the new millennium will be servant leaders, quietly working out of the spotlight to transform our world.” ― Ann McGee-Cooper

Quotes about servant leadership

41. “Leadership is an opportunity to serve.” — J. Donald Walters

42. “Authority is always built on service and sacrifice.” — James C. Hunter
43. “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill

44. “I believe in servant leadership, and the servant always asks, ‘Where am I needed most?’” — Mike Pence

45. “I devoted myself to the task of welfare of my countrymen—not as a ruler but as a servant.” — Sheikh Hasina

46. “True leadership is servanthood. Put the interests of others at the center of your decisions.” — Dave Ramsey

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47. “Coaching is the most important servant/leadership element in helping people accomplish their goals.” — Bill Hybels

48. “It has generally been my experience that the very top people of truly great organizations are servant-leaders.” Stephen Covey

49. “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.” — Max De Pree

50. “In a servant leadership culture we learn by choice or example that if we want to be great, we have to serve others respectfully.” ― Vern Dosch

What makes a good servant leader?

We know the five characteristics of a servant leader are valuing people, humility, listening, trust, and caring.

However, how does that translate to actions from a manager or leader?

Well, valuing people means that the leaders of your organization care about people for who they are.

Not just whatever skills or benefits they bring to the company.

Servant leaders care about business, but their first priority is their people.

What does that look like?

Well, this leader is the one who makes sure you take your time off, don’t work when you feel sick, and takes the time to care about what is going on in your world.

Humility is another trait that a servant leader shows.

They don’t constantly talk themselves up.

They recognize they accomplish things through others.

Listening is a critical part of being a servant leader, as well.

Active listening skills will really set a servant leader apart.

These people listen intending to understand first and then worry about themselves being understood.

These traits put together help a servant leader build trust.

Trust goes both ways.

It is not enough for the followers to just trust the leader.

The leader must also demonstrate trust in their people.

Caring about people is a great way to build trust.

Kindness and authenticity will go a long way!

What are your thoughts about servant leadership?

Let us know in the comment section below!

Danielle Dahl, Lead Contributor
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