Ten Characteristics of a Servant Leader and Fethullah Gulen

fethullah-gulen-75Larry Spears extracted and identified a set of ten characteristics from the writings of Robert Greenleaf, which he ascribes to the servant leader. These characteristics are by no means exhaustive, and often occur naturally within individuals. Gurkan Celik and Yusuf Alan (2006) applied these characteristics to Fethullah Gulen to analyze his leadership patterns, since their possession marks the greatest and most prominent leaders in history and in the contemporary world.

  1. Listening:

Fethullah Gulen is experienced as a person and leader with a deep commitment to listening intently to others and seeks to identify the will, perceptions and intentions of his audience, and helps to clarify their will and views. He listens receptively to what is being said and to what is left unsaid. His listening also encompasses the idea of getting in touch with one’s own inner voice. He has a strong will power and resolve. All of his followers would indicate that they never saw Gulen experiencing even one moment of hopelessness.

  1. Empathy:

According to those who are inspired by Gulen, he strives to understand and empathize with others, and he is characterized as a person who puts himself in the position of the other and tries to understand another man’s perceptions and experiences. The cultivation of empathy gives one the basis for detachment, the ability to stand aside and see oneself in a perspective relative to the context of one’s experience.

  1. Healing

One of Gulen’s great strengths is his belief in the potential for healing one’s self and one’s relationship to others. Many people have broken spirits and have suffered from a variety of emotional traumas. Although this is a part of being human, servant leaders recognize that they have an opportunity to help make whole those with whom they come in contact. Gulen dedicates his life to solving social problems, satisfying spiritual needs, healing relations between people, and encourages interpersonal and intercultural dialogue.

  1. Awareness:

As Greenleaf observed: “Awareness is not a giver of solace; it is just the opposite. It is a disturber and an awakener. Able leaders are usually sharply awake and reasonably alert. They do not seek solace. They have their own inner serenity.” Everything should be directed toward fulfilling awareness of personal responsibility. In no way should they be seduced by the world’s charms and life’s attraction’s. Gulen understands the issues and prevailing conditions as they actually are, and is aware of all advantages and disadvantages. His messages and demands do not contradict reality. His students also indicated that he produces intuitive insights in the future when needed, and his doors of perception are open wide.

  1. Persuasion:

Gulen is reliant on persuasion and absolute belief in his message, rather than on positional authority, when making decisions within his community. He seeks to convince others, rather than coerce compliance, and is effective at building consensus within groups, and promotes a sincere dialogue among cultures, religions and civilizations. Gulen has stated that in the modern world the only way to get others to accept your ideas is by persuasion. This massage comes to the fore both in his sermons as a emeritus preacher and in his activities. This principle is originated with Fethullah Gulen’s influential mentor: Bediaüzzaman Said Nursi (1876-1960). Fethullah Gulen frequently cited the following from Nursi:

“Victory with civilized persons is won through persuasion”.

In this respect, Fethullah Gulen can be characterized as a person with a high level of persuasion. His followers emphasized that his conviction has never faltered, and that he never renounced his mission. Persuasion is, according to respondents, also related to Fethullah Gulen’s personal courage. Even if left alone, he has enough courage to persevere and to resist all the difficulties he might encounter. Fethullah Gulen shows great confidence in his followers is very persuasive and is very proficient in his use of body and verbal language. Fethullah Gulen also makes effective use of storytelling, including the use of symbolism and metaphor in order to motivate his audience. We observe in his speeches and sermons that he frequently used stories about the Companions of the Prophet Mohammed in order to motivate his audience.

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