Authentic Leadership vs Servant Leadership: What’s the Difference?

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There is a lot of talk these days about servant leadership. But what is the difference between authentic leadership vs servant leadership? Which one is better for your business? In this blog post, we will explore the pros and cons of each type of leadership and help you decide which one is right for you.

What is authentic leadership and what is servant leadership?

Authentic leadership has been defined as a model of leadership that emphasizes the leader’s ability to remain aware of and true to his or her values, beliefs, and motivations while maintaining an open mind and listening attentively to others. Servant leadership, on the other hand, is a philosophy and set of practices that ennoble and inspire individuals to lead lives of service with joy and fulfillment.

Both authentic and servant leadership are about putting the needs of others first. They are both based on the premise that the leader is not above the led, but rather exists to serve them. Both approaches place a high value on developing relationships of trust, respect, and mutuality. And both seek to create a climate in which all people can flourish.

Key differences between these two leadership styles

  1. The primary difference is that authentic leaders are driven by their own internal values and beliefs, while servant leaders are motivated by a desire to serve others.
  2. Authentic leaders focus on their own personal growth and development. They are constantly striving to become the best version of themselves. In contrast, servant leaders focus on the growth and development of those they lead. They seek to help others reach their full potential.
  3. Authentic leaders place a high value on integrity. They are honest and transparent in their dealings with others. Servant leaders also place a high value on integrity. But in addition, they also seek to model compassion, empathy, and care for those they serve.
  4. Authentic leaders are confident in their own abilities and judgments. They are not afraid to make decisions or take risks. Servant leaders also have confidence in their abilities. But they temper this confidence with a healthy dose of humility. They recognize that they do not have all the answers and that they need the input of others to make wise decisions.
  5. Authentic leaders are results-oriented. They set high standards and expect those they lead to meet them. Servant leaders also focus on results. But they are just as concerned with the process as they are with the outcome. They believe that the journey is just as important as the destination.

Authentic leadership and servant leadership are both about putting the needs of others first. But they differ in their orientation, their focus, and their approach. The key is to find a balance between these two styles that works for you and your organization.

innovation and ideas
innovation and ideas

Pros of authentic leadership over servant leadership

There are several advantages that authentic leadership has over servant leadership:

  1. One advantage is that authentic leaders are more likely to be effective in achieving goals. This is because they are more likely to be able to inspire and motivate people to work towards a common goal.
  2. Authentic leadership is more likely to foster innovation and creativity. This is because authentic leaders are more likely to encourage people to think outside the box and come up with new ideas.
  3. Authentic leadership is more likely to promote trust and cooperation between people. This is because authentic leaders are more likely to be seen as credible and trustworthy by those they lead.

Cons of authentic leadership compared to servant leadership

There are several potential disadvantages to authentic leadership compared to servant leadership:

  1. Authentic leaders may be more likely to make decisions based on their personal values and beliefs, rather than what is best for the group or organization as a whole. This can lead to conflict and division within a team or organization.
  2. Authentic leaders may be more likely to exhibit narcissistic qualities, such as a need for power and admiration, which can ultimately damage relationships and hinder effective teamwork.
  3. Because they are focused on their own development and growth, authentic leaders may be less able to provide support and guidance to others.

Servant leadership, on the other hand, is characterized by a focus on the needs of others and a commitment to meeting those needs. While this approach can result in more harmony and cooperation within a team or organization, it may also mean that the leader is less effective in achieving their own goals.

Pros of servant leadership over authentic leadership

Servant leadership has been shown to be more effective than authentic leadership in a number of ways:

  1. Servant leaders are more likely to foster trust and cooperation among team members, as they prioritize the needs of others over their own.
  2. Servant leaders are more likely to inspire employees to contribute their best efforts towards achieving organizational goals.
  3. Servant leaders tend to create more positive work environments, which can lead to improved employee morale and motivation.
facilitating productivity with servant leadership
facilitating productivity with servant leadership

Cons of servant leadership compared to authentic leadership

  1. The main downside of servant leadership compared to authentic leadership is that it can be difficult to maintain the required level of selflessness.
  2. Servant leaders may also find it challenging to keep their egos in check and avoid becoming bossy or dictatorial.
  3. Some followers may take advantage of a servant leader’s good nature by shirking their own responsibilities or expecting special treatment.
  4. Servant leadership can be time-consuming and demanding, as leaders must constantly be aware of the needs of their followers and working to meet those needs.

Situations when authentic leadership is better than servant leadership

There are several situations in which authentic leadership is better than servant leadership

  1. When leaders need to establish trust and credibility with their followers, it is often more effective for them to be transparent and genuine.
  2. When leaders need to make tough decisions that may not be popular with everyone, it is important for them to be clear about their values and convictions.
  3. When leaders are dealing with complex problems that require creative solutions, they need to be open-minded and flexible in order to find the best possible solution.

Situations when servant leadership is better than authentic leadership

There are a few key situations when servant leadership may be more beneficial than authentic leadership:

  1. Servant leadership is often more effective in organizations or groups that are already cohesive and have strong relationships. This is because the leader is focused on serving the group, rather than themselves, which can help to strengthen bonds and foster a sense of trust.
  2. Servant leadership can be particularly helpful in times of crisis or change, when stability and calm are needed. The leader’s focus on others can help to provide a sense of comfort and reassurance during difficult times.
  3. Servant leadership may also be more effective when leading highly skilled or expert teams, as the leader can rely on the team’s expertise and knowledge to get the job done.
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Authentic Leadership vs Servant Leadership Summary

So, what is the difference between servant leadership and authentic leadership? The main differences are that servant leaders put others first while authentic leaders focus on themselves, servant leaders listen more than they talk while authentic leaders like to talk a lot, and finally, servant leaders focus on the needs of the group while authentic leaders focus on their own individual needs. Both styles of leadership have pros and cons, and it ultimately depends on the situation as to which type of leader will be more successful. In general though, if you are looking to build trust within your team and want everyone to feel valued, then servant leadership may be a better fit for you or your organization.

If you are looking for change and growth in yourself or your team, then authentic leadership may be a better option. Leave a comment below if you have any questions about this topic!

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Hidayat Rizvi
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