The benefits of combining servant leadership and conscious leadership

by Dr. Mark Bojeun

In leadership discussions, servant leadership is often lauded for its emphasis on selflessness and serving others. However, it’s crucial to recognize that even this well-praised approach has its limitations. One of the notable drawbacks is the potential overreliance on the leader. While prioritizing the well-being of team members is admirable, an extreme focus on serving can inadvertently create a dependency on the leader. Team members might come to expect constant guidance and support, hindering their personal growth and independence.


Servant Leadership Drawbacks

Decision-making process

Moreover, servant leadership can encounter challenges in the decision-making process. The commitment to making decisions collectively or with significant input from team members while promoting inclusivity may not always be suitable for situations that require swift and decisive action. This slower decision-making approach can hinder progress and productivity, especially in fast-paced environments where immediate responses are essential.

Potential for exploitation

Another issue that servant leadership can face is the potential for exploitation. The selfless nature of this leadership style can be taken advantage of by team members who manipulate the leader’s desire to serve. This exploitation can erode trust within the team, creating an environment of cynicism and opportunism rather than one of collaboration and mutual support.

Lack of accountability

Additionally, servant leadership’s emphasis on support and service may inadvertently lead to a lack of individual accountability. Team members, knowing that the leader is committed to their well-being, might not feel the need to take full responsibility for their actions or decisions. This can create challenges in maintaining a culture of accountability and ownership.


Benefits  of Conscious Leadership

Empowerment and autonomy

Conscious leadership steps are a complementary approach to addressing these limitations. It encourages leaders to strike a balance between serving and empowering team members. Empowerment and autonomy are highly valued, fostering individual growth and self-reliance. This ensures that team members develop the skills and confidence needed to make decisions independently when necessary.

More efficient decision-making

Conscious leadership also places importance on efficient decision-making. Leaders are encouraged to consider inclusivity but recognize when it’s time to take decisive action. This approach ensures that important decisions are made promptly, even in complex situations.

Setting healthy boundaries

Moreover, conscious leadership promotes healthy boundaries. Leaders are taught to be self-aware and discerning, preventing the potential exploitation of their selflessness. This creates an environment where team members respect boundaries while still benefiting from the leader’s commitment to their well-being.

Increased accountability

Accountability is another core aspect of conscious leadership. Leaders cultivate a culture where team members take responsibility for their actions, contributing to a more accountable and productive environment. This balance of support and accountability ensures that team members thrive while maintaining their individual responsibility.

Focused on the well-being of team members

More significantly, Servant Leadership has a primary focus on the well-being of team members, often at the expense of other critical leadership functions like setting a vision, driving innovation, or managing performance. While caring for employees is undoubtedly important, a leader’s role isn’t solely to serve but also to guide, inspire, and sometimes challenge their team to reach higher levels of performance. Conscious and Transformational leadership, on the other hand, balances the welfare of individual team members with the need to inspire and motivate the team toward a shared vision, making it a more encompassing model.

Better strategic thinking and vision setting

Finally, servant leadership falls short in its lack of emphasis on strategic thinking and vision setting. Servant leaders are often so immersed in the day-to-day well-being of their team that they may neglect the broader strategic goals of the organization. Conscious leaders, in contrast, are visionaries who look beyond the immediate needs to chart a course for the organization’s future. They are adept at rallying their team around this vision and inspiring them to achieve more than they thought possible.  

Servant leadership, while commendable, is not without its limitations. These include potential over-reliance on the leader, slow decision-making, vulnerability to exploitation, and challenges in fostering individual accountability. Conscious leadership complements servant leadership by addressing these drawbacks, emphasizing empowerment, efficient decision-making, healthy boundaries, and accountability. By integrating the strengths of both approaches, leaders can create a well-rounded leadership style that promotes the growth, well-being, and success of both individuals and organizations.


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