5 Servant Leadership Ted Talk (You Need to Watch Now) (July 2019 Edition)

By Nan Nan Liu | Strong Female Leaders

Subscribe and Get Your Daily Motivation!

Great leaders are all around us. Though many consider that strong and charismatic manager or executive who calls the shots and speaks their mind as their one great leader; true leaders, the people who influence others with positivity, confidence and a sense of servitude, make the biggest impact and contribution towards employees' career and personal growth. They could be the charismatic and outspoken personalities holding shiny titles and use their influential stature to help others rise; they could also be the quiet individuals who stay late to mentor new interns, be the shoulders others cry on during tough times, and take ownership when mistakes occur.


According to a recent Gallup study, only one in four employees "strongly agree" that leadership provides them with "meaningful feedback," and only 21% of employees "strongly agree" that their leaders motivate them to excel in their jobs.


Servant leadership is a timeless concept that was referenced by some of history's most notable scholars such as Lao Tzu, Cicero and Plutarch. The actual phase "Servant Leadership" was coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in his essay, The Servant as Leader, in 1970. In the essay, the Servant Leader is:

"servant first ... It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead."

"That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions."

"The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types...the difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served."

"The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?"

"A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the 'top of the pyramid,' servant leadership is different."

"The servant-leader SHARES power, puts the needs of others first and HELPS people develop and perform as highly as possible."


The following thought-provoking Ted Talks are great places to start.

5 Servant Leadership Ted Talk (You Need to Watch Now)
1. Servant Leadership: How a jar can change the way you lead and serve | Ali Fett | TEDxFondduLac
As the Assistant Vice President of Talent Development at Verve, a Credit Union, Alison (Ali) Fett knows a thing or two about what it takes to be a leader. She specifically strives to be a servant leader through developmental trainings and coaching. She takes pride in serving her team and community and inspires others to do the same. Ali believes that servant leadership is a journey and not a destination, and that everyone has the potential to be a great leader.

Her motto is: "Who you are is good enough; don’t ever stop creating better versions of yourself. It feels great to grow."

2. Extreme Ownership | Jocko Willink | TEDxUniversityOfNevada
In his riveting Ted Talk, retired Navy SEAL officer and New York Times bestselling author, Jocko Willink, explains from personal experiences how fighting a war taught him the essentials of being a leader. He asserts, in both his Ted Talk and book, EXTREME OWNERSHIP (<- CLICK LINK FOR MORE INFO), that only when a team takes ownership of its problems can the problems get solved, and can the team win.

3. The Future of your Future is Servant Leadership | Anthony Perez | TEDxColoradoSprings
Though the 21st century has afforded us great technical advances, have we actually taken a few steps back? If our future doesn't allow us much room to embrace the human element and be our authentic selves, yet they are the elements we need to move forward, then can servant leadership be the key to holding us together? Perhaps we need to identify ways to honor individual commitment to those that we serve in order for us to achieve the outcomes that we desire?

Authenticity is being comfortable in one's own skin. Authentic leaders are self-aware, respectful, confident and emotionally mature. They aim to build trust with their teams and facilitate a safe environment for their team to grow in.

With his unique ability to engage and inspire his audience, Anthony uses experiences from his personal life to motivate and influence people with all ages to become a leader.

4. Servant leadership | Joe Schmitt | TEDxHiawathaWomen
In his Ted Talk, Mr. Schmitt uses his experience working at government and corporate organizations to understand true Servant Leadership. With his executive leadership, national strategy and process optimization experiences and more than 27 years of leadership experience, Schmitt teaches us how servant leaders not only lead their immediate teams but are changing the world.
Schmitt's background includes 22 years active duty in the United States Marine Corps. After retiring from the military, he became the Executive Director of the Minnesota Federal Executive Board. In this role, Schmitt oversees efforts that create value to the public by fostering communication, coordination, and collaboration with all federal, state, and local government agencies.

5. Who Becomes a Leader? (It Could Be You): Larry Singell at TEDxBloomington
Economist Larry Singell answers that question. By intertwining his enthusiasm for basketball and baseball with his research on leadership, Singell discovers how education plays an important role in labor-market outcomes, and how it affects people's choices and opportunities later in life. More recently, his focus on the economics of higher education reflects the effects of financial aid programs on the access, retention, graduation, and career choices "that affect faculty placement in academic leadership positions."

Singell, who also serves on the editorial board of the leading journal, Economics of Education Review, was a faculty member at the University of Oregon. He is now the Executive Dean at the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University.

[ End of Article ]

[ Disclaimer: this article includes affiliate links.]

Subscribe and Get Your Daily Motivation!