Leadership for Turbulent Times

The understanding of leadership begins with the understanding of what it means to serve.

“…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Matt. 20:28 NKJV

“… If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”
Mark 9:35 NKJV

“But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “‘ou know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.'”
Matt 20:25-28 NKJV

“The only ones among you who will be truly happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.”
Albert Schweitzer

“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between the two, the leader must become a servant and a debtor. That sums up the progress of an artful leader.”
Max DePree

“A leader is one who, out of madness or goodness, volunteers to take upon himself (or herself) the woe of the people. There are few men or women so foolish, hence the erratic quality of leadership.”
John Updike

What is Servant Leadership?

Robert Greenleaf is recognized as the father of the modern concept of servant leadership. Greenleaf (1977) described servant leadership in this manner:

“It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead…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 grow while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?”

This concept has been advanced by several authors such as Steven Covey, Max DePree, Margaret Wheatley, Ken Blanchard, and others.

There is a strong difference between a servant leader and a service leader. If a person’s primary job, for example, is to watch out for the best interest of those he is serving and to find ways to make his department more efficient and accountable to the people he is serving, this isn’t necessarily a servant leader. The real test of servant leaderships has been defined this way by Greenleaf:

“…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?”
Robert Greenleaf

Self-Serving Leadership
 

Objective is to be served.

Hierarchical relationship to team

Co-workers viewed as inferior

Creates atmosphere of dependence

Rejects criticism

Seeks first to be understood, then to understand

Holds onto and protects information.

Focuses on self-image, advancement

 

Servant Leadership
 

Objective is to serve

Relational structure in team

Coworkers seen as part of team with complementary gifting

Releases others to their own leadership gifting

Encourages input, critiquing and shares credit

Seeks first to understand, then to be understood.

Shares information openly with team.

Values followers with respect, promotes before self.