Thanks so much for all the heartfelt notes, messages, and acts of kindness that I received in the last week upon my Dad’s passing. It really meant a lot to me, and I am extremely thankful for the many fabulous friends and work associates that I am blessed with.

A very key aspect of being an effective servant leader is building relationships by being present in people’s lives, helping them deal with real life issues. In his writings, Robert Greenleaf, who is revered as the pioneer of the term and concepts of “servant leadership”, talks about a number of key characteristics of a servant leader.

Two of those characteristics that deal with building relationships are:

  • Empathy
  • Healing

A servant-leader strives to understand and empathize with others within their sphere of influence. They accept and recognize people for their special and unique spirits. Successful servant-leaders are skilled empathetic listeners, who know and understand what people are dealing with in their lives and have a heart and desire to help them through even the toughest of times.

Another of the great strengths of servant-leadership is the potential for healing one’s self and others. Many people have broken spirits and have suffered from a variety of emotional hurts. This is a part of being human, and servant-leaders recognize that they have an opportunity to “help make whole” those with whom they come in contact. This gets at the essence of servant leadership, which would say that true leadership emerges from those whose primary motivation is a deep desire to help others.

Throughout my career I have found that times of crisis for people can be great opportunities for leaders to either advance their relationship and impact with their people, or can deteriorate it, depending on how the situation is handled.

When someone feels that their leader empathizes with their situation, and is truly concerned about the person’s healing, their relationship will be deepened and the leader will become more effective and impactful.

I saw numerous examples of people stepping up and truly empathizing and caring about the healing of our family in the last week. I am blessed to have so many servant leaders in my life. Seeing how people impacted me, also helps me to be that much more effective when helping others through real life situations in the future.

How are you doing in empathizing and healing when dealing with people in your life?

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. – Romans 12:15