by Ed Lindekugel
CEO Acton Academy at Serenbe

Last week we discussed servant leadership. To follow up, over the next 2 weeks we will look at ten characteristics have been identified as most important for development of servant leaders. All of these characteristics are encouraged in Acton Academy at Serenbe’s program, and should be reinforced at home to maximize development of leadership in our children. Practicing these characteristics yourself will allow you to model them more effectively for your children.

This week, we will look at the first five characteristics: listening, empathy, healing, awareness, and persuasion.

Servant leadership involves prioritizing the needs of others over one’s own. In order to accomplish this, strive to listen attentively to others. To improve listening skills, always strive to give people full attention. Pay attention to their body language, avoid interrupting them, and provide feedback on what they say. Servant leaders strive to understand the intentions and perspectives of others. To be more empathetic, strive to value others' perspectives, and approach situations with an open mind. As a leader, support people both physically and mentally. As I have pointed out in the past, to love someone is to give them what they need. Work to make sure that people have the knowledge, support and resources they need to succeed. Self-awareness is the ability to look at yourself, think deeply about your behavior, and consider how they affect those around you. Understand why you think the way you do (meta-cognition). Anyone can become more self-aware by knowing their strengths and weaknesses. Ask for feedback from others and learn to manage your own emotions. Finally, servant leaders use persuasion and respect, not authority, to encourage action. They aim to build consensus insupport of decisions. Being persuasive should not damage relationships or take advantage of others.

Next week we will address the remaining five: conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people and building community.