Basics of Servant Leadership

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Robert Greenleaf is the acknowledged father of the discipline of Servant Leadership (although by no means the originator, as we will discuss in future posts). His model, though, is a good place to start our discussion:

Servant leadership is a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world.

Robert Greenleaf

He describes this Servant Leader moving into 3 distinct phases:

  • The Natural Desire“It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first”
  • The Conscious Choice – “Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead…”
  • The Best Test – “The best test, and difficult to administer, is: do those served grow as persons…”

I can attest to this natural flow in my life, as someone who is serving eventually comes to a place where giving to a group puts you into a natural leadership position. It doesn’t come from desiring or pulling this leadership role -grasping for it will result in other leadership styles.

Greenleaf’s determination of success, then, is not directly tied to the leader, but to the group being served. As this is difficult to measure, and reflected in the natural human choices of the group being served, it is doubtful that any performance indicator can be made for this kind of leader.

This philosophy has far-reaching consequences, and is the burning desire of this blog.

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