S. McGowan. June 2008
Leadership in the 21st Century: Contrasting Views of Leadership and their Utility for My Practice
In this paper I will examine two modern views of leadership. The leadership models I have decided to review are Servant-Leadership and Discretionary Leadership and my aim is to describe them, explore some of their similarities and differences and consider their usefulness for my own practice.
Robert K Greenleaf defined Servant-Leadership in1970 in his essay ‘The Servant as Leader’ (Greenleaf, 1970). Greenleaf attributes the inspiration for his idea to the novel ‘Journey to the East’ by Herman Hesse (1932), where the central character Leo; servant to a party of travellers, proves ultimately to be the vital member of the group, whose mission fails without him. The servant-leadership theory is based on a model of empowerment and contrasts sharply with models of leadership that are based on power. Instead of concentrating on the acquisition of power and control, servant-leaders focus on helping people to grow and fulfil their potential. Greenleaf states:
‘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’. (Greenleaf 1970)
The servant-leadership theory advocates the role of leader as serving rather than controlling. By serving the needs of their workforce, clients and communities servant-leaders can harness the full force of an empowered group. Servant-leadership models promote a sense of community and an holistic approach to work and, ultimately, society.
Steven R Covey, vice chairman of Franklin Covey, the world’s largest management and leadership development organisation, described... [continues]
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