Servant leaders are able to lead through a primary focus that puts the needs of others before their own. These service philosophies extend beyond the team environment to include everyone associated with an organization, including the customers and all of the stakeholders. Serving others is a key leadership trait, but these 5 famous servant leaders provide the best examples to follow. They exemplify the attitude that it takes to constantly put the needs of others first.
1. Nelson Mandela
Mandela stood before his people and told them that he was a humble servant. He had a passion for his people and wanted to see them achieve equality. Sometimes that meant taking to the streets to demonstrate and put his personal well-being at risk. At other times, it meant surviving harsh conditions in prison so that a statement could be made. Through it all, Mandela proved that you can lead others by putting their needs first.
2. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The same thing could be said about MLK. He didn’t always want to be the leader of the US civil rights movement, but he knew that there was a need for equality. By putting the needs of others first, he was able to leave a lasting legacy that proved anyone can make a difference if they’re willing to have a humble, serving perspective. Some of his speeches are still listened to regularly today because they have such a ring of truth.
3. Albert Schweitzer
Schweitzer was a man who took his faith very literally. He took the words of Jesus seriously and determined to love others as best as he could. To that extent, he served in a number of ways. At one point, he and his wife examined over 2,000 patients in African while traveling hundreds of miles sometimes just to reach one person. He questioned the theology of his time to help bring others a fresh perspective.
4. Mother Teresa
She dedicated her life to serving others through her faith as well. Mother Teresa had her critics from time to time, as most servant leaders do, but no one could question the motives that existed behind her desire to help. She never sought personal recognition for the things that she was doing, though at times she insisted on large changes and wasn’t afraid to say things that others might hesitate to say. In the end, however, many are calling her to become a saint because her life really was a miracle.
5. Mahatma Gandhi
Opposing the British ruling officials was bound to be dangerous, but Gandhi believed that the best way to lose oneself was to serve others. He protested peacefully, often through the use of fasting and logical discourse, and eventually his ideas won out and India became an independent nation that was free of colonialism. He is widely regarded for his work, even if his goal wasn’t to become famous, simply because he was willing to always put the needs of someone else before his own.