While servant leadership appears to be a better alternative to traditional leadership, it has its problems just like traditional leadership. Here are the top five servant leadership challenges.


Servant leadership makes use of empathy on an extreme level. The servant leader puts the needs of his/her followers before his/her own. This constant level of giving can lead to fatigue.

Undermined Authority

In normal leadership situations, servant leadership will be effective. Yet, there are times when a leader will need to take a firmer stance. And, servant leadership doesn’t allow for this level of authority.

For example, when a leader has to be more authoritative, followers aren’t going to believe that the leader means business. This is because followers may have seen the leader waiver on other issues previously while being empathetic to followers. Thus, the authority of the leader is undermined.

Decreased Motivation

In addition to undermined authority, servant leadership can cultivate decreased motivation. With leadership lending a helping hand, workers are tempted to ease off their current level. If the leader is going to shoulder some of the weight, then followers don’t have to shoulder as much.

Eventually, a pattern of decreased motivation will appear. Why work so hard when the leader will step in and help out?

The Organization Becomes Less of a Priority

With the leader’s focus on the needs of the members of the organization, the needs of the organization itself can be diminished. Yes, leaders need to take the needs of followers into consideration. But, this should never override the mission of the organization.

Basically, focusing on the relationship aspect of the organization may take time away from the functional aspects of the organization.

It Doesn’t Fit Every Situation

Each organization is like a person with individual characteristics all its own. Ultimately, there’s no leadership model that works in every business or in every situation. Organizations are fluid and require a fluid leadership style.

Servant Leadership Is a Model Just Like the Others

After all, servant leadership is a leadership model just like the others. Each leadership model has its pros and cons. Therefore, it’s important to know the challenges of servant leadership. And once known, plans can be made to adjust.

Originally published at robertsiekert.com on August 8, 2019.