Servant Leadership

Posted on 27. Jun, 2010 by Julia Mitchell in Encouragement

The Parable of Brother Leo

A legend tells of a French monastery known throughout Europe for the extraordinary leadership of a man known only as Brother Leo. Several monks began a pilgrimage to visit Brother Leo to learn from him. Almost immediately, they began to bicker about who should do various chores.

On the third day they met another monk going to the monastery, and he joined them. This monk never complained or shirked a duty, and whenever the others would fight over a chore, he would gracefully volunteer and do it himself. By the last day, the others were following his example, and from then on they worked together smoothly.

When they reached the monastery and asked to see Brother Leo, the man who greeted them laughed.

‘But our brother is among you!’ And he pointed to the fellow who had joined them.

Today, many people seek leadership positions, not so much for what they can do for others but for what the position can do for them: status, connections, perks, advantages. They do service as an investment, a way to build an impressive resume.

One of the Merriam-Websterdefinitions of the word “serve” is as follows:

Serve (‘sərv) verb: a) to be of use b) to be favorable, opportune, or convenient c) to be worthy of reliance or trust d) to hold an office: discharge a duty or function

As we frame leadership with servanthood, what does this mean? It means that we, as servant leaders, must lead from a servant heart.

The phrase “Servant Leadership” was coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in The Servant as Leader, an essay that he first published in 1970. In that essay, he said:

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. That person is sharply different from one who is 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?

I truly believe that Servant Leadership has never been more applicable to the world of leadership than it is today. Not only are people looking for a deeper purpose and meaning when they must meet the challenges of today’s changing world; they are also looking for principles and philosophies that actually work. Servant Leadership works. Servant Leadership is about getting people to a higher level by leading people at a higher level.” Ken Blanchard

The parable about Brother Leo teaches another model of leadership, where leaders are preoccupied with serving rather than being followed, with giving rather than getting, with doing rather than demanding.

Leadership based on example, not command. This is called servant leadership.

Can you imagine how much better things would be if more politicians, educators, and business executives saw themselves as servant leaders?

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader

John Quincy Adams

About the Author

Julia Mitchell is an online professional networker and a coach. Julia coaches and mentors like minded people to succeed in their chosen field and invites you to join with her.

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