Implementing Servant Leadership in Your Small Business

03/04/2021 | Roger and Susie Engelau

Wouldn’t it be nice to know that the leaders who report to you have strong servant leader skills?

Once you begin solidifying your own servant leadership competencies, you can begin a strategy of implementing servant leadership in your small business.

If you haven’t already completed our Servant Leader Competency Assessment for Small Business leaders, click here to do so. It’s a short scorable self-assessment using the 21 concrete, observable competencies from Seven Pillars of Servant Leadership  (James W. Sipe and Don M. Frick).

Here’s a process you can follow for implementing servant leadership in your small business. The questions provide structure to facilitate your group in wrestling with how your organization lives or doesn’t live the competency and what you can do to embed it into your day-to-day activities:

  1. Start by having each key leader complete our Servant Leader Competency Assessment for Small Business and follow it up with a similar process to the one you followed (see last month’s blogpost). Help them understand their strengths deeply and create a development plan for 2 or 3 of their weaknesses.
  2. Form a discussion group of your key leaders. Set a regular meeting or embed it in one of the meetings in your usual meeting rhythm schedule.
  3. Over the next few months, work through each of the 21 competencies using the following discussion questions:
  4. What do we do well? Not so well? What do we need to improve in this competency? Think through the answers to these questions in every area of your business using our SERVANT modelSERVANT Model











For each competency, generate a list of things your team will Start, Stop, or Continue in order that each competency takes a foothold and is ultimately able to flourish.

  1. What are the consequences if we don’t improve it?
  2. Do we need to understand the competency more deeply? Who do we know that already does this competency well? How can we learn more about it?
  3. What opportunities can we identify to practice the competency behaviors?
  4. What feedback did we get? Did we ask for feedback? How will we hold ourselves accountable?

It could take several meetings to chip away at the barriers to a servant-led culture. You can spin off other discussion groups as you move through the organization so that every team member has a chance to participate.

Within a few months of implementing servant leadership in your small business, you’ll begin to see results in your culture, in your operations, and in your profit. Not to mention the peace of mind you’ll have knowing that you’re doing the right thing for your team members, your business, and your community.