This is a great time of the year for campfires. As I was enjoying one this weekend, I noticed how important it is to keep feeding the fire if I wanted it to continue to brightly burn and provide the necessary heat for everyone huddled around the fire.

It dawned on me that this holds true for servant leaders as well. If you want a culture of servant leadership within your organization, or team, or family, the leader has to continually feed the culture to adequately keep it alive and brightly burning.

If you think that the development of a culture is just a project, and another thing to get done and knock off your list, you will eventually lose the culture you desire.

It takes significant intentional effort to feed a culture of servant leadership. I have found the following to be effective ways to fan the fire of servant leadership within your sphere of influence:

  • Ensure that everyone in the organization is exposed to, and understands the Purpose, Vision, and Values of the team. Develop systems that will cascade this Foundation to each department and individual, so that everyone knows what it means to him or her.
  • Train, retrain, and retrain all leaders in the organization on the principles of servant leadership. Keeping the principles of servant leadership in front of everyone will feed the fire of the culture.
  • Give everyone in the organization the opportunity to be exposed to the principles of servant leadership. This will be a gift, as it will help them in every aspect of their life. It will also help keep the culture of servant leadership passionately alive within the team.
  • As the leader, model the values, so that the team can see the culture in action through your actions. People believe what they see more than what they hear.
  • Ensure people know what “Star Performance” looks like within the culture. Take every opportunity to highlight and recognize people for living the values of the team.
  • Openly discuss how you and the team are advancing the Purpose and living the Values each day, at every meeting.
  • Have clear expectations, as well as consequences for non-compliance with the values within the culture. Have courage to take the necessary steps with people who are not modeling the values.
  • Develop systems of feedback to help expose leader’s blind spots where there are improvement opportunities. When people see that their opinions are valued and acted upon in this area it will feed the flames of the culture of servant leadership.

Building and sustaining a culture of servant leadership is a long journey that never ends. But it is the most worthwhile work a leader can do. The positive impact that you can have on people’s lives through this commitment makes it worth every bit of the effort.

What are you finding effective to fan the flames of servant leadership?

Mark Deterding

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. Proverbs 16:3