Managing From Within
PSC-420 Organizational Behavior and Management
Grand Canyon University
“Servant leadership is about moving people to a higher level of individual and communal self-awareness by leading people at a higher level” (Serrat, 2009). In simpler terms, servant leadership is about using one’s higher level position to lead others, not one’s own self, to a higher level. Servant leadership is often associated with the Bible and Jesus Christ; however, it is compatible with most religions and theories of philosophy. A study by Kriger and Seng (2005) suggested that values of servant leadership (forgiveness, compassion/empathy, integrity, kindness, honesty/truthfulness, patience, humility, loving kindness, service to others, peacefulness, and listening, among others) were found within Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. In the Islam culture, an Islamic leader is supposed to lead his people by being an example to them through actions such as performing numerous good deeds and providing sound advice to others. This kind of act links the Islamic leader to the servant-leader category. From around the 1910’s until his death, in 1948, Mahatma Gandhi was a servant leader, whose motivation was to serve others. In his service, Gandhi made sure to place himself amongst the poor, in order to better relate to them in his service to them. However, Gandhi’s true goal was to raise his inner-self to a higher spiritual plane; thus, negating the true definition of servant leadership, as well as his own service to others. Compared to servant leadership, the parallel for Buddhism is to lead without leading, to empower and engage others to do what needs to be done, and, in the process, gain admiration and respect, but not put one’s self above those he serves. Gandhi definitely gained admiration and respect, and will be known worldwide for many years. Katherine Patterson (2003) used the concept of virtue as a descriptor, or value, for servant leadership. Patterson’s approach of linking servant leadership to virtues implies that servant leadership is a moral form of leadership. According to an online dictionary, virtue is the “conform[ing] of one’s life to moral and ethical principles” and having “good and admirable qualities” (www.dictionary.com). Most religions or philosophies have a moral code they adhere to and stand firmly amidst because most religious and philosophical persons are leaders in the community. More specifically, these persons are allocated as servant leaders because of their positions; they are designated as examples others should follow by their actions. In conjunction with having virtues and morals, the one value of servant-leadership that can be found within all areas of religion and philosophy is listening. Listening is an intricate part of servant leadership because a leader must listen, not only with his ears, but also with his eyes and instincts. This leader must understand what is being said through words used and what is not being said by watching body language, along with the emotional atmosphere that is present within any given circumstance. In addition, these leaders must listen to what their instincts are telling them throughout the meeting or discussion that is taking place. Third, the value of emotional intelligence (EI) is “the ability to accurately perceive reality through understanding and regulating one's emotions while adapting and responding to the emotions of others” (Mayer & Salovey, 1997). Servant leaders in any type of management role must have EI in order to have empathy, a core characteristic of servant leadership, towards others. In order to serve and empower, the servant leader must understand and relate to others’ feelings and thoughts, which enables the servant leader to emote the vision of the organization by relating to those he empowers. Understanding emotions contributes towards building...