“The servant-leader is 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. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.”

Robert K. Greenleaf

At Leadership Rochester we connect diverse types of professionals who share an important and powerful thread, they share the desire to strenthen our community. We spend a lot of time establishing a high trust environment with our cohort classes. The practices of servant leadership and a trust centered leader are closely linked and this creates a powerful environment for learning. Let’s explore how trust and leadership intertwine.

Stepping away from traditional leadership models

Servant leaders and high trust leaders stand apart from those with a traditional authoritarian leadership style. Traditionally one’s title or access to resources help legitimize their power and establish them as a leader. But servant leaders and trust based leaders draw from a much deeper well. They serve first and they extend trust first. They care and invest in others. Thus their power is developed over a longer period and can carry far more legitimacy and long-term respect from those they serve.

How does servant leadership and trust balance?

Steven M. R. Covey shared his insights in Ken Blanchard and Renee’s Broadwell’s book Servant Leadership in Action. Covey writes that the key outcome for a servant leader is trust. Measuring the level and quality of trust is the measurable outcome as to whether a servant leader is successful. The clear intent of a servant leader is to serve others. Trust and servant leadership are both built on intent. Your intent (or motive) maybe invisible but people are always making assumptions about your motive. Servant leaders are often different in that they aren’t seeking to win themselves but are helping others win. When a servant leaders intent is pure others are less likely to second guess their agenda and may provide better work.