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The Art of Leading by Serving: A Deep Dive into Servant Leadership

By Colin McNamara
Published in Business & Strategy
September 07, 2023
2 min read
The Art of Leading by Serving: A Deep Dive into Servant Leadership

The Art of Leading by Serving: A Deep Dive into Servant Leadership


As someone who has scaled businesses and led technology teams for over 25 years, I’ve come to recognize that effective leadership is not about exerting control but about empowering others. The Marine Corps taught me the value of a cohesive unit and how each member, from the frontlines to the back office, plays a critical role in the mission’s success.

However, it was during my time at Oracle and Always Cool Brands that I encountered and fully embraced the concept of Servant Leadership. In today’s blog, let’s delve into what it means to be a Servant Leader and how this approach can radically transform your team dynamics and overall business success.

What is Servant Leadership?

For those unfamiliar with the term, Servant Leadership is a leadership philosophy where the primary goal is to serve. It’s a concept coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in 1970 but has roots that go much deeper, often attributed to ancient philosophies and religious texts. The Servant Leader shares power, puts the needs of the employees first, and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible. In this model, leadership isn’t about accumulating power but dispersing it.

The Core Tenets of Servant Leadership

Here are the key elements that define Servant Leadership:

  1. Empathy: Understanding the needs and aspirations of the team.
  2. Listening: Effective listening is more than being silent. It’s about understanding what’s said—and what’s not said.
  3. Healing: A great leader helps their team overcome challenges, whether personal or professional, and creates a healthy work environment.
  4. Awareness: Self-awareness and situational awareness are critical. Leaders must understand their strengths, weaknesses, emotions, and also the impact of their behavior on others.
  5. Persuasion: Relying on influence rather than authority to achieve results.
  6. Conceptualization: The ability to see the big picture and think beyond the day-to-day grind.
  7. Foresight: A Servant Leader learns from the past, considers the realities of the present, and anticipates the likely outcome of a decision for the future.
  8. Stewardship: The commitment to leading by serving others rather than exercising control.
  9. Commitment to the growth of people: A focus on personal and professional development of team members, often going above and beyond to support them in their journey.
  10. Building community: Encouraging a sense of belonging and mutual commitment, thereby creating a culture that fosters relationship-building and collective decision-making.

By embracing these principles, leaders can form more agile, resilient, and effective teams that are better prepared to navigate the challenges of a rapidly evolving business landscape.

Servant Leadership in Action

At Oracle Cloud, adopting Servant Leadership meant breaking down hierarchical barriers, encouraging open dialogue, and facilitating team growth through mentoring and skill development programs. We successfully integrated this model alongside Network Reliability Engineering (NRE) practices, which is an SRE Team, to achieve a remarkable 58% YoY reduction in customer outage minutes.


The journey towards becoming a Servant Leader is ongoing, but it’s one that I firmly believe in. It aligns with my mission of empowering teams to deliver high-quality, sustainable solutions that benefit our communities and our planet.

So, the next time you find yourself in a leadership position, ask yourself: Are you leading to serve, or serving to lead?


Servant LeadershipLeadership StylesTeam ManagementEmpowermentProfessional GrowthIncident ManagementCommunicationEmpathyListeningPersonal DevelopmentTeam CohesionCustomer SatisfactionSustainable SolutionsBusiness EthicsLeadership QualitiesSelf-AwarenessOpen Communication
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Colin McNamara

Colin McNamara

AI Strategist, Private Label Pioneer, Sustainability Visionary


Business & Strategy
Sustainability & Ethics
Personal & Lifestyle
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