People

What is Servant Leadership?

Recently, I was forced to think that what kind of Leadership Style is suitable to our organization’s culture. The answer I kept coming to was Servant Leadership. I wrote that as an answer to many of my colleagues. What I missed though was, defining it in more detail.

In my understanding, it’s pretty clear, the leader with a desire to serve his/her teammates for their growth is a Servant Leader. Even though this seems enough to me, I decided to add more content to this definition. Most of it is being referenced from https://www.greenleaf.org/

The servant as a Leader

While servant leadership is a timeless concept, the phrase “servant leadership” was coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in The Servant as Leader, an essay that he first published in 1970. In that essay, Greenleaf said:

“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. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.

“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? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?“

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.

Want to read more

I will recommend https://www.greenleaf.org/ to read more about it.

Leave a Reply