Are you a Servant Leader? Is your boss a Servant Leader?

Welcome to the Original Servant Leadership Assessment (v1.0)

This is the original servant-leadership assessment (v1.0), based on the Robert Greenleaf / Larry Spears model of 10 Characteristics. For the new assessment (v2.0), based on the Modern Servant Leader model, click here.

Servant Leadership Quiz
Question - Listening: Does the individual practice active listening and repeat what they heard back to the person speaking, ensuring comprehension and alignment?
Example: When speaking with one of his team members, Richard is careful to ensure he understands what they are saying: "John, let me make sure I understand what you're asking. I heard you say the team needs greater notification of pending changes, ideally in writing. Is that right and if so, how far in advanced do you require notice?"

Question - Listening: Does the person seek feedback from all stakeholders?

Example: In between formal performance appraisal periods, Vanessa makes it a point to check in with her boss, direct reports and peers for recurring check-ins at different periods. During each conversation, she is careful to ask how she is performing in their eyes and what she could do better. Vanessa also seeks input from a similar, broad group of stakeholders on key decisions.

Question - Listening: Does the individual seek full comprehension before making critical decisions?
Example: Rick, an all-star member of Jessica's team, approaches her with a concern. Rick's most critical project is running out of budget and he proposes transferring funds from a lower priority initiative that does not need it. The lower priority initiative's project manager is on vacation and Rick implies that PM would not mind. However, before executing the decision, Jessica calls the other project manager and learns the business has just increased scope and the budget can not be reduced.

Question - Empathy: Does the individual spend time understanding the surrounding circumstances for requests?

Example: Eric's boss sent him an urgent email asking him to propose 25% budget cuts by the end of the day. Eric's initial interpretation was this would be a proposal for further discussion. However, Eric approaches his boss on the timeline and asks for clarification behind the expected next steps. Through greater dialogue, Eric realizes his Boss must commit to cuts by the end of the day. Through understanding of his boss's responsibilities, Eric avoids making a mistake by proposing ideas and now ensures his proposals are vetted as carefully as possible within that day.

Question - Empathy: Is the individual willing to perform and even seek to try the roles and tasks of the individuals they are responsible for?
Example: Herb Kelleher, one of the most frequently referenced examples of Servant Leadership in business, was the CEO of Southwest Airlines. He was famous for many Servant Leadership attributes, but one of the greatest examples was when he helped load baggage on Thanksgiving.  Herb's been quoted, "I have always believed that the best leader is the best server. And if you're a servant, by definition, you're not controlling."

Question - Empathy: When dealing with performance issues, does the individual focus on the problem behavior or the person?
Example: Alex has contributed a great deal to the project.  However, he frequently bursts out in meetings with long monologues about his frustrations with the business, sometimes in front of their customers.  His direct supervisor approaches Sean, the department head and requests a replacement for Alex.  The supervisor suggests Alex is not a team player who is disrupting the project.  In contrast, Sean researches the matter and learns from the rest of the team of Alex's tremendous contributions elsewhere.  By focusing on the behavior, not the person, Sean identifies a coaching opportunity and retains a great contributor while developing the supervisor's coaching and feedback skills.

Question - Healing: Does the individual focus more on past performance or future opportunities in performance reviews?

Example: While conducting his performance review with Alex, Sean spends 80% of the time discussing opportunities, training, project deliverables in the upcoming year and other areas of growth. Only about 20% of the time and documentation is devoted to areas for improvement and past performance.

Question - Awareness (Self): Is the individual aware of their own weaknesses and attempting to compensate for them?
Example: Ryan is a relatively new manager. As such, he's had few opportunities to develop staff beneath him. He recognizes this and sets recurring meetings with his team and several mentors to review his progress in the area. He also checks in regularly with his Human Resources contact to ensure he is in compliance with company policies and procedures.

Question - Awareness (Organizational): Does the individual make an effort to identify and track risks and problems in the organization?
Example: Sally is famous for saying, "if it can't be measured, it can't be managed." She makes it a point to ensure every team lead in her group provides regular status updates with clear flags for issues that may be occurring. Even when not formally reported, the team members know she has an uncanny sense of when something is about to go wrong. Often, Sally uncovers growing risks through casual dialog and asking just the right questions.

Question - Persuasion: Does the individual use positional power to coerce others for results or influence through earned authority?

Example: Andrew is a software programmer and according to Human Resources, an individual contributor. However, his long tenure with the organization, passion for his work and mastery of programming languages creates a great sense of appreciation and admiration from the rest of the technology department. Whenever someone can't solve a problem, they often come to Andrew. More importantly, when Andrew speaks, the whole team listens. As a result, he is far from an individual contributor, but has earned the respect and admiration of the team, enabling him to influence decisions based on his experience and knowledge.

Question - Persuasion: Does the individual seek to build consensus or make many executive decisions?
Example: Tracey spent a lot of time in her new position meeting with stakeholders, listening to their concerns and ideas for improvements. As a result, she has a strong sense of what each group needs and seeks solutions that meets the needs of the majority. When a crisis arises that requires one of two departments to eliminate a project, she seeks alignment from the peer managers. With her background from listening to both, she knows one of the teams is seeking a larger, more important project the next year and gains agreement they can cancel this year's effort in lieu of next year's initiative. Meanwhile, the other manager agrees to a budget reduction next year to support the effort. The result is consensus among the peers.

Question - Conceptualization: Does the individual create stretch goals that are still achievable, with measurable milestones?
Example: Reggie leads the customer support center for the company and is tasked with reducing costs while increasing customer satisfaction. Through analysis, he determines the best balance is to increase the percentage of incidents resolved on the first call. At the beginning of the year, these incidents account for only 10%, but the industry average is 18%. Reggie polls the team as well as peers in other companies and determines 18% is achievable by year end and 23% in the next year. To do so though, he sets goals for the first quarter of 14% (assuming low-hanging fruit will be achieved), 16% by mid-year, 17% by third quarter and 18% by year end.

Question - Conceptualization: Does the individual seem to spend more time reacting to situations or planning for the future?
Example: Kathryn works in a group famous for "managed chaos". Most of her peers seem too busy for impromptu questions as they regularly fight fires. In contrast, Kathryn seems calm under pressure. She's frequently found quietly sitting in her office, sketching out plans on the whiteboard or drafting presentations on strategic goals. Her messages are consistent and seem well thought-out. She may not be the first to respond, but she generally seems to grasp the full situation. She also seems to be one of the few directors not afraid to say "no" to her regional Vice President and he somehow respects her most for it.

Question - Foresight: Does the individual seem astute at understanding the consequences current decisions will make on future outcomes?
Example: When project managers present their initiatives to the review board for funding approval, they prepare by guessing what Charles will ask them. Charles, a member of the strategic planning committee, seems to ask the one question nobody else does and quiets the room. Often, the team has not prepared answers for his questions which typically deal with the long-term implications of the effort. For example, one time Charles asked how a new effort, developed in the United States, would be supported for their largest client that recently moved their headquarters to London. It turned out there were international laws preventing the planned approach for this customer and the project had to prepare additional funding for an alternative approach.

Question - Stewardship: Does the individual treat resources as possessions? Do they make comments like "MY budget" and "MY team" rather than "OUR team" and "OUR budget"?
Example: Most managers refer to the budgets and employees on their team in a possessive form, calling them their own. In contrast, Robert typically refers "the team" and "our budget" rather than "my employees" or "I don't have the money for that". When he's not sure if budgets in other areas should be applied in manners presented, he also considers it his responsibility to challenge the plans, respectfully. As such, he shares in the stewardship of the company's resources.

Question - Growing People: Is the individual truly committed to growing others through professional development?

Example: Facing a particularly difficult year, Allison and her peers receive the unfortunate news that the professional development budget was eliminated for the year. As such, the team's training has been cancelled. While her peers accept this news at face value and move on, Allison coordinates with her peers in other organizations and creates a "job-shadowing" program. The new program enables the team reporting to her to spend 1 day shadowing peers in another (non-competing) company and vise versa, gathering new ideas and opportunities for improvement. The result is an essentially free program that still offers some degree of professional development, without a formal budget.

Question - Growing People: Is the individual willing to make tough decisions, including leading others to new opportunities outside the organization, when appropriate?
Example: Sally had to give Amy poor performance reviews two years in a row. Amy had excellent analytical skills but simply seemed disinterested in the products their company produced. Therefore, Amy seemed to lack the dedication and follow through needed in her demanding role. Sally noticed that Amy had a passion for bike riding though. Determining that Amy's future was limited at the company, Sally called a former classmate that worked for a bicycle manufacturer and secured Amy an optional interview in their organization. While confronting Amy with her performance reviews and the realization her opportunities were limited, Sally also provided her the option to interview with the bicycle company.

Question - Community: Does the individual work to create community in the organization?

Example: Cliff was part of the team that launched the company's first major website. The project was a major effort with strict deadlines and a lot of pressure. As a result, the project team became very close during the effort, learned to count on each other, balance each others weaknesses and recognize that together, they'd get through just about any challenge. Although many years had passed and most of the team was in different groups, they still relied on each other across their new teams when they needed something. Maintaining this relationship included team reunions each year on the anniversary of the project's launch. Cliff made sure this meeting happened each year and even setup a group email list for the team to stay in contact.

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