Are You a Servant Leader?

The late Robert Greenleaf once described a leader as being one who first serves.

The servant-leader is servant first… That person is sharply different from one who is leader first.

 Do you see yourself as first leading or first serving? Servant Leadership is to first have a focus on others — not oneself. It goes against many of our notions about leaders and leadership. It is that focus on others that makes a true leader.

The preeminent leadership test, Greenleaf noted, is for leaders to be able to challenge themselves with these three questions:

  • Do those under my leadership grow as persons?
  • Do they become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servant leaders?
  • What is the overall effect of my leadership on those who are under- privileged, and will they benefit by my leadership or not?

  1. How would you answer each of these questions?
  2. Do those under your leadership have an opportunity for personal growth? Give examples.
  3. Are they “healthier, freer, wiser, more autonomous, more likely to become servant leaders” under your leadership?
  4. How does your leadership improve the lives of those in your community who are underprivileged?

These questions can, of course, be used to evaluate our leaders—but first they must be used to evaluate our own leadership style. Most all of us will, at one time or another, be put into a leadership position where others will be dependent upon our direction. This may be in our home, at work, or in a volunteer community group.

In many ways, Greenleaf was an early prophet. He foresaw the chief institutional problem today — too high a priority on telling and too low a priority on doing.

Since Greenleaf, many of today’s management consultants, like Stephen Covey, have built on his work which describes the characteristics of effective leaders:

  • Leaders inspire trust by building relationships.
  • Leaders clarify purpose by creating goals to be achieved.
  • Leaders align systems so that there is no conflict between what they say is important and what results they measure.
  • Leaders unleash talent in other people.

The world is vastly different today and ever-changing. If we can develop leaders who can withstand and embrace the changing times by deeply rooting themselves in these principles of great leadership, then we can develop great people, great teams, and great results.


For more see: The Quality Leadership Workbook, Couper and Lobitz (2017).

 

5 Comments

  1. “Do you see yourself as first leading or first serving? Servant Leadership is to first have a focus on others — not oneself. It goes against many of our notions about leaders and leadership. It is that focus on others that makes a true leader.”

    I think we talk about the notions of leaders and leadership where leaders help their subordinates; however, in practice, our leaders do not want to do it because they are too lazy, don’t care, only care about themselves, don’t want to put in the time and resources to do it, and/or ate too power hungry and want to divide and conquer their subordinates by playing off against each other. In the book To Protect and Serve by Joe Domanick, Chief Parker played his subordinates against each other in order to protect his own position. In the same book, Chief Gates stated that his subordinates that they don’t understand the roles and responsibilities of his job as police chief which meant that he felt that his subordinates had nothing to offer in helping him run the department.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.