“The servant-leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. The best test is: do those served grow as persons; do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?”
Robert K. Greenleaf, The Servant as Leader, 1970
With that initial definition of servant-leadership in 1970, Robert K. Greenleaf planted a seed of an idea that continues to grow in its influence on society with each passing year. In fact, during the 1990s, we have witnessed an unparalleled explosion of interest and practice of servant-leadership. In many ways, it can be said that the times are only now …
We meet monthly with a group of organizational developers. Some of them are teachers. Some are consultants. Others are professionals in their organizations. I love meetings because they challenge me to learn and grow. Several of the participants are associated with Greenleaf. Center for Servant Leadership. It was through this connection that I came to read Servant Leadership.
As one of the guys, Jeff, said, Greenleaf isn’t a cheap date. I mean, the servant leadership material is not easy to read. You have to stay focused, work on it, think about it, and generally put more work into it. However, it is worth it.
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In Servant Leadership, first published as an essay in 1970 and then as a book in 1977, Robert Greenleaf put forth a radical alternative to the hierarchy-based leadership model. Instead of the orthodox of leaders being strong-willed chiefs, intent on bending people to their will, Greenleaf posited that ‘servant leaders’, those who put the interests and growth of others before their own, were what was needed.
The tone of this book is of its day, and is revealing in the way it talks about business as a relatively new area of study. We’re so used to elevating business to primary status, that it’s useful to remember that once upon a time they didn’t run the show quite so much.
The book is a bit light on illustrations and diagrams, but it’s heartfelt tone and flow is a constant reminder of how deeply help these views were for Greenleaf. A sense that this was his major work. I’ve boiled it down to these sections:
Origins of servant leadership concept
- Servant leaders start by listening
- Servant leaders are empathetic
- Servant leaders strive to “know the unknowable”
- Servant leaders have foresight
- Servant leaders serve without limits
- Servant leaders are people-builders rather than people-users
- Servant leaders are humble
- Servant leaders have integrity
- Servant leaders know what they’re in service of
- Service organizations are themselves servants
- Service leaders are first amongst equals
- The world needs you to serve
Modeling Servant Leadership
The challenge of leadership is to move away from the mission of leading people and fall victim to a growing ego where leadership focuses more on the power of the leader and less on how the leader meets the needs of the followers . Leaders must be constantly vigilant to ensure their leadership is not centered on themselves but on the people they lead and serve.
Greenleaf has a model for this: primus inter pares: “First among equals”. That is, the organization must have a number of leaders who are equal. organization and the people it touches, both internally and externally. This equality forms the basis of the limiting ego. Since they have no position of power over others, it is difficult for their ego to get out of control.
The Balance to this, however, is the need for someone to lead the group to a decision. While the utopian idea that everyone is equal is useful for controlling egos, it’s terrible when it comes to helping the organization get things done. Therefore, you need the ability to have a leader whose job it is to keep things moving.
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Organizations for Development’s Sake
Every organization has a purpose. Business organizations are designed to make money. Non-profit organizations are designed to improve humanity through their production. Educational institutions should help us to educate ourselves for a better world. Religious institutions are meant to connect us to the God of religion. However, is the stated purpose the sole purpose?
For Greenleaf, the answer is no. However, to understand why, you need to realize that he believed organizations were created for the benefit of all they touch. That is, any internal or external person. the organization must be improved as a result.
Educational institutions should not “burn” teachers in the service of students.Religious organizations must not persecute others in the service of their faith. Commercial organizations must not pressure their suppliers to the point where they can no longer thrive and prosper.
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In other words, the old debate about whether the end justifies the means ends with a resounding no. You cannot do “whatever it takes” to achieve the organization’s goals because the ultimate goal of the organization must be the improvement of everyone involved.
Brené Brown calls the kind of people who are able to interact with each other in healthy ways throughout their lives “complete people” (see Rising Strong Part 1 and Part 2). Wayne Dyer calls these people “No Irreous Zone” people (see below) Whatever you call these people, you’ll find that they know who they are. They don’t seek validation outside of themselves. They don’t do it to themselves bowing to the latest winds of change.
The kind of genuine leader who thinks he is a servant. There are no five easy steps to developing your character as a person and as a leader. However, there are more clues to the organizational structure and, Even more important are the aspirations of organizations that result in the kind of growth that enables someone to become a servant leader.
Becoming a servant leader may not be a straight or easy path, but it’s worth it, which is why you might need leadership want to read Terms of Service, Terms and Conditions.
Collection & Edit by Marketing Dept from Team Happy Leader Community – Shasu Group
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