Is “Servant Leadership” Still Relevant?

Regardless if it is business or politics, leaders have a choice in how they approach their work. Learn the important differences between the "servant" and the "leader first" type of leadership.

How do you define the best leadership style? Regardless if it is business or politics, leaders have a choice in how they approach their work.

I have read and enjoyed the published works of Robert Greenleaf, who created a very good definition of servant leadership.

The following is Greenleaf’s description of servant leadership and notes the differences of the “leader first” style.

The servant-leader is a 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. That person is sharply different from one who is a leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…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 manifests 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 not be further deprived?

A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid,” servant leadership is different. The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.

Do you know any servant style leaders? Are you one yourself?

How is this style working in today’s society?

I wonder if it would work in government?

I certainly hope so!

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