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Enhancing Servant Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence

Great leadership is all about Emotional Intelligence

Luke Pivac



Enhancing Servant Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence

This article breaks down the attributes of Emotional Intelligence and discusses why it is key to becoming a great Servant Leader.

But first, let’s explore the characteristics of what makes a great Servant Leader.

What is Servant Leadership?

A good Servant Leader is able to recognise and understand others within their team. A good servant leader is able to put other people’s needs before their own and is able to share power with their team.

Common Servant Leader traits

1. Empathy

  • Servant Leaders motivation is by a genuine desire to help others.

2. Listening

  • Pays attention, uses active listening skills to resolve conflict and help others wherever possible.

3. Awareness

  • Aware of their surroundings, the powers of others and their own constraints and limitations. Servant Leaders are self aware and aware of others.

4. Altruistic

  • Takes an active role in the care and well-being of others. Ability to inspire others and is able to build a level of trust with their team.

5. Forward looking

  • Ability to imagine the vision and possibilities of the future. Visualise a bright future and is able to take necessary steps to get there.

6. Persuasive

  • Has an uncanny knack for negotiating with others. Ability to influence others in a positive way.

7. Resourceful

  • Acts as a steward for the organisation’s resources. Take responsibility for planning and managing resources.

8. Foresight

  • Is able to see the big picture and identify the connections. Can see what the future looks like. Similar but different to 5.

9. Community focused

  • Build a common purpose of team. Create a sense of environment where the team feels they belong to something meaningful. They deeply care for their team mates.

10. Committed to ongoing growth of others

  • Interested in developing the skills of others. Help employees to define a clear and manageable career path.
Photo by Jehyun Sung on Unsplash

Now we have explored the characteristics of Servant Leadership, let’s explore how you can use some emotional intelligence techniques to enhance those skills further.

Defining Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is often defined as the ability to monitor your own emotions as well as others. Additionally, it is the ability to decipher emotions and group them effectively so you can use that knowledge to guide your thinking.

The technical definition of EQ is Emotional Quotient

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Breaking down EQ attributes

Self Awareness

The ability of knowing how your emotions affect you and those around you (empathy).

Self awareness is about knowing in the moment how you feel, and viewing emotional patterns in specific situations of yourself and others. It is about knowing how your emotions affect you and those around you.

As a Servant Leader, it’s also your ability to understand your strengths and weaknesses. There are many ways to improve your self-awareness but a very simple one is to write down some general thoughts everyday for 10 minute or so.

Self Regulate

Self-regulation means to manage your emotions effectively.

Can you picture a boss or a colleague who blows off steam when they hear something that they don’t like? That’s the opposite of self-regulation. People who self-regulate can manage their emotions and they aren’t brash or hasty in how they express themselves.

A key way to improve self-regulation is to do deep breathing exercise instead of blowing off steam and take notice when you’re being emotionally hijacked.


A desire to work towards something and inspire others to do the same

Self-motivation is a key element to having EQ. A cool way you can improve your self-motivation is to really understand why you’re doing something and ensure that your why hits you at an emotional level and inspires and motivates you.

Photo by Allie Smith on Unsplash


Understanding and sharing the feelings of others.

Empathy is about understanding and sharing the feelings of another person or persons. Are you able to empathise with your team members and colleagues?

A simple way to increase your empathy is to put your own feelings aside and ask, what would it feel like to be the other person right now?

Social Skills

Ability to communicate, adapt and set an example.

Social skills is your ability to communicate, manage change and set an example effectively. In the process, leaders who do this inspire their teams.

A great way to improve on this element is to seek feedback from your boss and your team on how well you listen and express yourself.

Some key takeaways

  1. It is important you ask yourself, how you’re doing on each of the elements of EQ?
  2. Focus on those things you’re doing well. Seek feedback from trusted friends, workmates or mentors on things you can do better.
  3. Address those improvement areas that are the biggest obstacles of your continued success.

Benefits of Servant Leadership

Team building

  • Work together to solve problems empowers you and your team to the magic of collaboration and cross-functional team building.

Listen to your team instead of assuming you have all the answers can teach you a lot. Your team can often understand what they need much better than upper management.

Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash

Increase in team morale by feeling valued

  • Done properly, your team can feel valued and they know you’re looking out for them. That inspires them to work with more enthusiasm and serve customers.

Stand out

  • Living up to servant leadership is a serious commitment. Genuine Servant Leaders stand out from the pack.

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