Servant Leadership

Topics: Leadership, Management, Servant leadership Pages: 8 (3125 words) Published: October 28, 2009
Servant leadership is a vital element in the most successful companies in the United States. The concept of servant leadership has been around for a long time and for good reason. It’s a solid concept whose potential is finally being realized. The following pages will examine the benefits of servant leadership and what it is. Its role in the workplace will be examined and why it plays a crucial function in the success of any organization. Before it can be determined whether servant leadership is needed, let’s examine what servant leadership is. Servant leadership is based on the principle of serving others. The concept of servant leadership was conceived by Robert K. Greenleaf (1977), known as the originator of this management style. According to Greenleaf, servant leadership “begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Next, a conscious choice brings one to “aspire to lead.” Leaders have two primary responsibilities; to make certain the needs of others are served and to have concern for people. A Servant leader must be more focused on people than on responsibilities. Though inspired by the life and teachings of Jesus, Greenleaf’s inspiration of servant leadership came together after reading Journey to the East by Hermann Hesse (1956). In this story a group of people take a mythological expedition. The main character Leo, goes with the party as their servant. Leo was also a person with great presence and spirit who also sustained the group with songs. Everything is going well until Leo vanishes. Soon after, the group falls into dismay and the journey ends. Without Leo, They are unable to continue. Years later, one of the group runs into Leo and it is discovered that Leo is not a servant but a great and noble leader. Greenleaf realized from reading this story that great leaders are viewed as servants first, and this is the reason why they are great. Leo was the leader the whole time but his character forced him to be the servant first. Servant leaders start with a desire to serve and then the aspiration to lead comes next. This is dramatically different from the person who wants to be a leader first due to a hunger for power or money. It is easy to talk about how to serve others, but how does an individual put these into action? How should an individual behave in order to exhibit the characteristics of a servant leader? Larry Spears, CEO of the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, has deliberated on Greenleaf’s writings and culled ten characteristics that are essential for servant leaders” (Carroll, 2005). Listening- leaders have been known for their decision making and ability to talk to others, they also need to have the talent to be able to understand people and pay careful attention when they speak. Empathy- According to Daniel Goleman (2009), an internationally known psychologist, “empathy is the ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people.” Successful leaders use empathy in order to connect with their coworkers. Healing- In order to change and redevelop organizations servant leaders often have to nurse back to health entire groups, institutions, and companies. Persuasion- A servant leader does not rely on intimidation but must encourage people to achieve instead. Awareness- “Servant leaders are keenly aware of what’s going on with people. Awareness of others begins with self-awareness. Goleman holds that the hallmarks of self-awareness are self-confidence, realistic self-assessment, and a self-deprecating sense of humor” (as cited in Carroll, 2005, p. 18). Foresight- A servant leader has the ability to look into the future and gleam from past experiences in order to see what the ramifications of a decision made in the present are likely to produce. This type of leader is insightful, preemptive and discerning. Conceptualization- A servant leader has the ability to see the forest through the trees. They are able to connect the dots and find relationships when other people...
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