Confused by all the different models and definitions of leadership? This model of SERVANT Leadership distills decades of research, hundreds of attributes, and dozens of models to a comprehensive and simple model of the best examples.

The Acronym Model of SERVANT Leadership®️

It took me too long to discover servant leadership. It’s taking too long for others to discover the concept as well. Simply put, servant leadership is authentic leadership. If you’re not serving others, you’re not leading.


The problem is, most definitions of servant leadership are difficult to understand or share. Therefore, to increase awareness and advocacy I created a more simple definition, using the acronym S.E.R.V.A.N.T.


This acronym is not just another model for servant leadership though. Instead, it is a compilation of the best leadership models – including many focused on servant leadership. In fact, it’s based on my 20+ years studying servant leadership. I compiled the thoughts of other great servant leadership advocates into an easier to remember model.

The ACRONYM Model of SERVANT-Leadership®


The Acronym Model of SERVANT Leadership®️ defines servant leadership as:

The selflessness icon: A person up front has their arms extended, lifting two other people up - one in each hand.


Selflessness is about putting the needs of others before your wants. To lead effectively, you must serve many stakeholder groups and their needs should be your priority. If you’re not serving others, you are self-serving and that is not leadership. Learn more about Selflessness…


Forget their shoes. In order to lead people, you need to know what it feels like to walk a mile in their muddy boots. Even if you’ve never been in their position, you should understand their greatest challenges. This is why corporate leaders, who distance themselves from those they serve, lose the commitment of their people. Leaders who lose the ability to empathize lose the ability to lead. Learn more about Empathy…


The resolve of a leader is often overlooked in other servant leadership models, yet it is a critical attribute of effective servant leaders. If leaders lack resolve they tend to become too focused on a single stakeholder group. Like shelter in a storm, the unwavering resolve of a leader is shelter to the team. Learn more about Resolve…


People demand virtuous leaders. Nothing undermines a leader’s mission faster than a failure of character. Stakeholders expect leaders who represent what is best in all of us. The well-rounded leader is one with strong virtues. Read more about Virtuous…


Authentic leaders are the same person in public and private. To serve others effectively, you must be transparent about actions and intentions. If you want loyalty and commitment from others, stakeholders must know that you are candid, sincere about your intentions, and opposed to practicing dirty politics. If a follower is uncertain about your intent, they will not deliver their best. Learn more about Authenticity…


Great leaders are receptive to new ideas from anyone, anywhere, almost any time. For your organization to thrive, you must always be on the lookout for new ideas. This is why servant leaders must be open-minded and willing to be vulnerable to their people. The people closest to the problem are often the ones best prepared to find a solution—not the senior executive, who hasn’t been on the front lines in a decade. Read more about being Nonpartisan…


Servant Leaders maximize the sustainability of results. They do this by being thorough. A common failure of executives today is an emphasis on short-term results without regard for the long-term costs. This trade-off, to make themselves and their results look great while pushing the costs and impact downstream, weakens institutions. In contrast, servant leaders are extremely thorough. Learn more about Thorough…

If you’re interested in learning more about  servant leadership, sign up for my the course: SERVANT-Leadership 101. In that course, we touch on this acronym while also covering the history, current examples and more. Until next time, remember, keep serving!

Question: What principle of servant leaders do you think is most important?


Picture of Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner is the founder and principal of Modern Servant Leader and Radiant Forest, LLC. He has studied and promoted servant leadership awareness and adoption for over 20 years. He is the author of 2 leadership books and has 2 decades of corporate management and leadership experience. His corporate experience spans CIO, VP, Director, and many management roles at Fortune 500, INC 500, and Nonprofits. Ben’s education includes a B.S. in Management Science & Information Systems from Penn State University and an MBA from Lehigh University. Ben's Full Profile Here: About Ben Lichtenwalner

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Content

Martin Luther King – Celebration of a Servant Leader

Martin Luther King is among the greatest Servant Leaders this world has ever seen. His vision, leadership and ultimate sacrifice blazed a path for millions. There are many great posts, videos and other references that remind us of his vision and social injustices he would fight still today. Below are some of my favorites.

MSL Founder, Ben Lichtenwalner wears a Santa hat in a Christmas-decorated room, with snow falling outside and a simmering fire in the fireplace.

The Servant-Leader’s Night Before Christmas

Okay, you asked for it, here’s my personal reading of an old favorite: The SERVANT-LEADER’S Night Before Christmas. I hope you enjoy it and have a wonderful Christmas with friends, family, and loved ones.

Scroll to Top
We Value Your Privacy

This site uses cookies to enhance your experience. We do not share, sell, or lease your information for any other purpose.