Servant Leadership is….
After I wrote my post on Situational Leadership a couple of weeks ago, one of my readers commented on it, suggesting that I take a look at Servant Leadership. Servant Leadership is more prevalent in some circles than in others. Some may perceive it as pretty radical concept. Even the name of this leadership style evokes some discomfort in many of today’s leaders. But it can be an effective one, although perhaps more for some environments than others. Let me try to explain.
Businessdirectory.com defines Servant leadership as: “A method of development for leaders originally advanced by authors Peter Block and Robert Greenleaf. Servant leadership stresses the importance of the role a leader plays as the steward of the resources of a business or other organization, and teaches leaders to serve others while still achieving the goals set forth by the business.” The concept itself was first discussed by Robert Greenleaf in the 1970s as an approach in which the leader has “a natural feeling” to serve and to serve first.
“A leader is best when people barely know he exists; when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” Chinese proverb
The Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership sees the concept as “a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world”. In Servant Leadership the leader focuses on the growth and well-being of direct reports first. While others styles of leadership usually involves the 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”.
With this leadership style you find a reversal or an up-ending of the traditional organization chart, where the leader is on the bottom rather than the top. Here is where the discomfort lies, with the leadership not being placed on the top of the heap. It really does turn the “command and control” styl