A Personal Model of Leadership
Leadership is a fascinating concept. The term conjures up ideas of powerful, triumphant heroes with a group of followers defeating some evil enemy. Perhaps the enormous allure to leadership is because of the influence it has on practically everyone's life. Stories of heroic leadership go back to biblical times with Moses leading his people out of Egypt.
After surveying numerous articles on the evolution of leadership, it appeared that most of the articles were concerned with the concept of style of leadership and how leadership influences the organization. We began the twentieth century focused more or less solely on a leader-dominant theory of leadership that assumed a low opinion of the followers' motivation, maturity, and abilities (Waddell, 1994). The style of leadership is considered, by some researchers, to be important in achieving organizational goals and increasing productivity in followers (Awamlch & Gardner, 1999). This may explain why the literature appears to concentrate on leadership styles.
The leadership theories and models that seem to appear most frequently include; transactional leadership, transformational leadership, charismatic leadership, situational leadership, and servant leadership. Leadership does not take place in vacuum. It is a dynamic process that involves many social interactions between leaders and followers. The way these different theories and models affect the organization depends on many variables; organizational culture, group dynamics, and sociology of the organization (Johns & Moser, 2001).
The purpose of this paper is to analyze Greenleaf's definition of servant leadership for individuals, organizations, and trustees. The author will provide an explanation as to why he believes leadership is important personally, to his organization, and to society. In addition, a personal model of leadership based on contemporary models will be presented.
In his works, Greenleaf discusses the need for an improved methodology to leadership, one that puts serving others, including employees, customers, and community, as the essential priority (Spears, 2004). Servant leadership stresses increased service to others, a holistic approach to work, encouraging a sense of community, and the sharing of power in decision making. The words servant and leader are usually thought of as being diametric. When two diametric ideas are brought together in a creative and important way, a paradox appears. So the words servant and leader have been brought together to construct the paradoxical idea of servant leadership.
Greenleaf (1970) argued that leadership was bestowed on a person who was by nature a servant. In fact, the way a person becomes a leader is by first becoming a servant. A servant leader focuses on the needs of followers and helps them to become more knowledgeable, more free, more autonomous, and more like servants themselves. They enrich others by their presence (Northouse, 2007).
In addition to serving, the servant leader has a social responsibility to be concerned with the underprivileged and to recognize them as equal stakeholders in the life of the organization (Northouse, 2007). Where inequalities and social injustices exist, a servant leader tries to eliminate them (Graham, 1991). In becoming a servant leader, a leader uses less institutional power and less control while transferring authority to the followers. Servant leadership values everyone's involvement in community life because it is within a community that one fully experiences respect, trust, and individual strength. Greenleaf places a great deal of emphasis on listening, empathy, and unconditional acceptance of others.
In the evolution of his writings, Greenleaf moved from the individual as servant to the organization as servant. He believed that the relative recent development of large organizations in our world fashioned a new responsibility for those...
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Greenleaf, R.K. (1970). The servant leader. Indianapolis: The Robert K. Greenleaf Center.
Greenleaf, R.K. (1977). Servant leadership: A journey into the nature of legitimate power and greatness. New York: Paulist Press
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