= Servant-Leadership is a practical philosophy which supports people who choose to serve first, and then lead as a way of expanding service to individuals and institutions.
Steven J. Lawrence:
"Robert K. Greenleaf, who founded the “Center for Applied Ethics” in 1964, coined the term Servant leadership. After he died in 1990, the name of his organization was changed to the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership. At the present time, the Servant Leadership movement representing the ideas of Robert Greenleaf is under the stewardship of Reginald Lewis.
Greenleaf spent more than 40 years after retiring from AT &T researching management, leadership, education, and organizational culture. Over time, he came to the conclusion that the institutions in this country—both public and private—are suffering from a “crisis in leadership.”
In the essay that started it all, Servant as Leader, Greenleaf introduces a vision of leadership in which leaders see themselves as servants first and leaders second. Leadership is viewed as an instrument of serving the greater good, not as an end itself, and the search for and acquisition of power or influence is always subsumed into the overarching desire to be of service.
Servant Leaders are fundamentally about people and define the stakeholders in their sphere of influence quite broadly, including colleagues, subordinates, and boards of directors/trustees, clients and even the world at large. They place the needs of their people as primary and will not sacrifice the needs of the organization they lead in the service of furthering their own careers." (https://groundexperience.substack.com/p/servant-leadership-in-a-world-of?)
Steven J. Lawrence:
"Ten Principles of Servant Leadership
Robert Greenleaf developed a list of ten principles that guide the Servant Leader. The principles I have outlined below are drawn from the literature, but the descriptions are in my own words. For a more in-depth look at the Ten Principles, I recommend the writings of Larry S. Spears, the President of the Larry C. Spears Center for Servant-Leadership.
Listening – A servant leader truly listens to people, not just to understand but to address needs as they arise and are communicated. Surprisingly, humility is not listed as one of the top characteristics of Servant Leadership, but can be included here as the close cousin to listening. Without humility, the servant leader can never learn and certainly has no reason to listen.
Empathy – Compassionate leaders care about people they are working with, the people served by the enterprise they are leading, and the community in which their organization operates, including the larger world community.
Healing – A leader who cares about people is committed to wholeness and healing. If she recognizes a deficiency or need in a person, she works to find ways for that person to heal and to become more complete. This is not an annoying distraction from the organizational mission or business bottom line, but an important part of building and sustaining a team of mutually trusting partners.
Awareness – A person who has formal authority in any situation, including a workplace, group project or national organization has enormous power to make a difference. This is why it’s key to elevate people to leadership positions who have a sophisticated awareness about many things. Awareness of the impact of their work, the patterns of behavior on their team, and the importance of gathering information from multiple sources to ensure the best way forward.
Persuasion – Leaders who care about people do not cause harm. They recognize that forcing others to act or to take a position is a harmful action, and thus, seek to persuade people with reasoned argument and an appeal to the mission. They are not coercive.
Conceptualization – Like Transformational Leaders, Servant Leaders provide a compelling framework for the work they are doing in concert with others. They take care to build concepts that appeal to the hearts and minds of people and that promote values that directly relate to the mission.
Foresight – Socially responsible leaders look ahead to potential fallout and beneficial outcomes of their actions and the actions of the enterprises they lead. They contemplate not only the ways in which their organization might benefit from specific actions but how decisions and actions impact their people and the community around them. In other words, they take the long view.
Stewardship – The word stewardship has become a popular piece of jargon, but the principle is profound and important. Too many stories are coming out that tell the tale of a CEO who comes on board at the eleventh hour of a business and runs it into the ground before walking away with millions of dollars and a large workforce unemployed and destitute. A Servant Leader comes on board to rescue the business or to work with people to find ways to close the business that can benefit the largest amount of people as possible. She takes seriously her responsibility to steward the enterprise in a way that helps the micro-community of the business or organization and the macro-community in which the enterprise operates.
Commitment to the Growth of People – This is a big one. Regardless of the original mission or reason that people come together, a leader who wishes to serve the common good is first and foremost committed to growing as a person, allowing others to help him grow as a person, and helping other people to grow. Whether coming together to record a music album, making a full-length feature film, running a public school, or building a legal case, the people with formal authority to set the tone for the community of people always have their eye on the common good as the greater, over-arching purpose. In this category, stewardship takes on a broader meaning. What is ultimately and always stewarded is the building of a better world because people have the chance to grow.
Building Community – All of the above principles act in concert to build a positive community. Because of the principles of listening, awareness, persuasion, stewardship, healing, awareness and empathy, there is little room for a “cult of personality.” Furthermore, if the conceptualization of the community’s mission is clear and includes foresight, there will be a built-in understanding of the ways in which authoritarianism and cultishness can be avoided. This is partly related to a commitment to the growth of people. People can only grow if a community isn’t all about the “leader” and if there’s room for feedback and development of the leader himself. Ultimately, this kind of community is made up of Servant Leaders, all of whom take turns to step into the role of stewarding the community’s process at one time or another." (https://groundexperience.substack.com/p/servant-leadership-in-a-world-of?)
Criticism of Servant Leadership
Steven J. Lawrence:
"The main criticism is that this model of leadership is paradoxically both ambiguous and over-prescriptive, as this framework a) doesn’t catalogue empirically observable behaviors and b) doesn’t take into account the diverse perspectives and insights that arise within a community, instead relying on a predetermined ideology. This, according to critics, is counterintuitive to the post-modern age of facilitative approaches to decision-making in which all stakeholders participate and retain their own autonomy culturally and ideologically.
I can appreciate some of these criticisms, and the fact that Robert Greenleaf was a white, male Christian easily opens this model up to being discredited. At some point, I hope to write a response to an essay criticizing Servant Leadership from a feminist perspective. In that piece, I will respond to the microanalysis and socio-cultural deconstruction of the assumptions, aims, language and contradictions inherent in this leadership philosophy.
For now, I just want to make one point.
Stewardship is an attitude of wanting to take care of our world. A person who has an attitude of wanting to help (be of service) will identify problems and work to find ways to solve those problems. If that person winds up in a position of formal authority, he is likely to want to develop people on his team or in his organization. This means he will be able to notice frustration in those who feel they lack a voice. He will most likely want to remove that frustration or help to neutralize it by adopting a participative approach in which that person will have a voice. And the organization will be all the better for it, because the information gleaned from the participative process will most likely lead to more informed decisions. This will help the enterprise and help sustain long-term relationships within the community, team or organization.
So, the assumption that Servant Leadership necessarily precludes an egalitarian approach to decisions is just that. An assumption. And, an unexamined one, at that.
The key is empathy. When people of formal authority genuinely care about people and have a compassionate attitude, they will use whatever leadership models and strategies available to them that can get the best results and maximize the benefits for the largest amount of people. Sometimes, this will be participative, and sometimes it might be transformational. Leaders who serve (or servants who lead) are the ultimate situational leaders because they are aware and emotionally intelligent enough to understand the full potential of these models and strategies.
We can go around in circles, critically analyzing and making sure never to allow any one theory, individual, group or position to dominate (a major preoccupation that postmodernists/deconstructionists have), or we can be honest about the fact that leaders will always be around and that we need to promote at the very least the fundamental value of having a heart." (https://groundexperience.substack.com/p/servant-leadership-in-a-world-of?)
Robert Greenleaf, the man who coined the phrase, described servant-leadership in this way.
“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. He or she is sharply different from the person who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions. For such it will be a later choice to serve – after leadership is established. The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.
The difference manifest itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer , is: do those served grow as persons; do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society; will they benefit, or, at least, will they not be further deprived?” (Taken from the Servant As Leader published by Robert Greenleaf in 1970.)
Larry Spears, the CEO of the Greenleaf Center, describes servant-leadership in this way.
“As we near the end of the twentieth century, we are beginning to see that traditional autocratic and hierarchical modes of leadership are slowly yielding to a newer model – one that attempts to simultaneously enhance the personal growth of workers and improve the quality and caring of our many institutions through a combination of teamwork and community, personal involvement in decision making, and ethical and caring behavior. This emerging approach to leadership and service is called servant-leadership." (Taken from the Introduction to Reflections on Leadership published by John Wiley in 1995.)