Monday, January 22, 2007

Servant Leadership

What is Servant Leadership?
Servant Leadership, a term first coined by Greenleaf (1904-1990) in an essay, “The Servant Leader” continues to be a topic of discussion today.
“Servant-Leadership begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. The best test is: do those served grow as persons; do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?” Robert Greenleaf

My son said he would like to be an inventor when he grows up. He asked me if I would help him. I replied by saying that not only would I help him but I would work for him. I think he was a bit a surprised by this response. It reminded me of the same reaction I would get from my high school students when they talked about their dream jobs and plans for the future. I would always tell the students that I would gladly work for them and quite possibly they could end up being my boss some day. I believe servant leadership is all about the willingness to work collaboratively and serve others regardless of position in an organization. I believe servant leadership is about trusting those we work with.

In my experience as an educator I have worked with many leaders that I would consider true servant leaders. When I think of a servant leader, I think of someone that works with groups to make decisions (consensus building), someone that values the contributions and gifts of others, someone that is dependable and strives to do what’s best for the whole, someone who is willing to contribute as follower and as a leader, and someone who is willing to serve.

As leaders, how do we serve others?

I recommend visiting the servant leadership blog for more thoughts & provocative questions on this topic.