Servant leadership style essay

Service Visibility Delegation Influence Interestingly, many of the attributes described by Greenleaf have been identified as accompanying, and not functional attributes; for example, stewardship, persuasion and listening attributes are not categorized as functional attributes. Thus, values lie at the core of any leadership philosophy — they shape the characteristics of leaders, which in turn impact their activities and decision-making behavior. Behavioral scientists have proposed, but not yet empirically proven, that the value systems held by servant-leaders are unique, and distinguish them from other types of leaders and leadership theories Russell, , p.

Is Servant Leadership the Most Effective Type of Management?

In particular, senior leaders infuse their personal values throughout an organization through the process of modeling demonstrated, observable actions. Leaders who exhibit their values through deeds, as well as words will instill those values over time into the organizational culture; this in turn initiates organizational change. Given the importance of values, researchers have begun to examine the belief systems of practicing servant-leaders, and are exploring whether identified values correlate positively with the theoretical outcomes of servant-leadership, like organizational success.

Russell has examined the question from a non-empirical perspective, and calls for further research into the value systems of servant-leaders. In a recent study, Joseph and Winston were able to positively correlate honesty, integrity, benevolence and other leader values to the attribute of leader and organizational trust, and organizational effectiveness. Additional studies, however, are needed.

Theory Criticism Like other disciplines in the social sciences, modern study of organizational behavior employs the scientific method, and requires empirical validation. Leadership theories must be translated into functional models.


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These models serve as the basis for forming hypotheses that can then be tested and verified or disproved. Only validated models can be used reliably to describe, predict and recommend leader behavior in applied settings. Servant- leadership has come under some fire for remaining grounded in philosophical theory, and for lacking empirical substantiation.

Servant Leadership

Smith 8 Others criticize servant leadership from a social perspective, identifying it as either anti- feminist or religious in nature. Such concerns seem borne out by some of the academic literature, including Sendjaya and Sarros and McCormick On the pragmatic front, some researchers question the practicality and applicability of the theory to real-world scenarios.

Theory Support Academic researchers that advocate servant-leadership rarely address theory effectiveness from an empirical standpoint. Researchers point to recent corporate scandals as examples of the organizational dangers of self-serving leadership. A leader that operates from a desire to first serve others avoids these power traps by building consensus, follower empowerment and a sense of egalitarianism in the workplace. Even researchers who identify an erosion of personal influence in the modern workplace see a need for servant leadership.

Layoffs, plant closings, corporate scandals and increased competitive pressures have all contributed to a heightened uncertainty and stress in the workforce. There is a growing need for psychological security and stability, and a sense of moral and ethical grounding. Servant- 9. Smith 9 leadership is described as a new paradigm that meets these needs, because corporate culture is most influenced by the beliefs, values and actions of its leader. An inspirational, spiritually strong leader, it is argued, is the most direct route to a spiritually satisfying and therefore more productive workplace.

What do you see as the pros and cons of servant leadership?

Servant-leadership, with its emphasis on employee empowerment, teamwork and flatter organizational structures is seen as an ideal fit. Theory Comparisons Servant-leadership is most often compared with transformational leadership, a theory introduced in by James MacGregor Burns, and later extended by Bernard M. Bass Like servant-leadership, transformational leadership has become a popular leadership model in recent years because of its emphasis on extraordinary leader characteristics and its humanistic valuation of followers.

Can servant leadership transform your team?

Instead, they are complementary frameworks that share a focus on the individual, both in terms of appreciation of followers and of emphasis on leadership characteristics, but differ significantly in leader motivation, organizational objectives, measures of success, resulting cultures, and contextual appropriateness. Where the transformational leader is ultimately motivated by the need to achieve organizational goals, the servant-leader is ultimately motivated by the need to support the self-actualization of followers.

In transformational leadership, the personal development and empowerment of followers is approached as a means for achieving the organizational goal; in servant-leadership, it is the goal. As a result, servant-leadership places a greater emphasis on people over production, and transformational leadership places a greater emphasis on the reverse. This results in different measures of success for the two theoretical frameworks. In transformational leadership, achievement of organizational objectives serve as direct benchmarks, while in servant- leadership, follower happiness is the hallmark of success.

Achievement of organizational Smith 10 objectives, according to servant-leadership theorists, is the indirect but inevitable, outcome of a satisfied workforce.

Greenleaf Servant Leadership

The differing emphases of the two theories also lead to very different cultural environments, according to Smith, Montagno and Kuzmenko Both cultures are markedly different, suggesting the two leadership styles may differ in contextual appropriateness. Spears , appears to agree that servant-leadership is best suited for the public service sector; all of his six proposed areas of servant-leadership application involve non-profit or educational institutions pp.

He was raised in a household committed to both strong personal ethics and community involvement. His father, George Greenleaf, was actively involved in community and business affairs, serving on the local school board and city council, and active in union politics. Robert Greenleaf displayed early aspirations to leadership, becoming president of his Wiley High School senior class in In at the age of 30, Greenleaf discovered Quakerism, a religion that influenced his already developing thoughts on the nature of service and authentic leadership.

His responsibilities included the Smith 11 identification and training of promising managers, an activity that developed his growing recognition that the best leaders are driven by team interests self-interests, and display a shared set of ethical characteristics. He embarked on a second career as a management consultant and lecturer, advising such clients as the Ford Foundation and the Lilly Endowment, and teaching at M.

The central figure of the story is Leo who accompanies the party as the servant who does their menial chores, but who also sustains them with his spirit and his song. He is a person of extraordinary presence. All goes well until Leo disappears. Then the group falls into disarray and the journey is abandoned. They cannot make it without the servant Leo. The narrator, one of the party, after some years of wandering finds Leo and is taken into the Order that has sponsored the journey. There he discovers that Leo, whom he had first known as servant, was in fact the titular head of the Order, its guiding spirit, a great and noble leader Greenleaf, , p.

True leadership emerges out of a deep-seated desire to first help others. He began to write, publishing his emerging thoughts on servant-leadership in a privately published essay in , entitled The Servant as Leader. Only copies were printed initially; these he privately distributed to friends and key leaders of the day. Positive response led to increasingly larger reprint orders for the essay.

To date, more than half a million copies have been distributed worldwide, translated into multiple languages. Although not his first or last publication, this page treatise written at the age of 66 remains his most influential. These essays expanded his original vision of servant- leadership to include leadership as an organizational as well as individual model.

Advices to Servants, a collection of nine essays on servant-leadership in various organizational environments, was published in The second collection, entitled Seeker and Servant: Reflections on Religious Leadership , focuses on the role of servant-leadership in religious organizations but contains ideas that can be extrapolated to many institutional settings. Servant-leadership has also been treated in numerous third-party books, as interest and practice of the theory has grown.

The Greenleaf Center for Servant-Leadership, based in Indianapolis, IN, is a non-profit organization dedicated to the education, research and promotion of the principles of servant-leadership. Can servant-leadership even be taught? The scenario is based in part upon factual circumstances, but has been fictionalized to protect individual identities and present a fuller illustration of servant-leadership in practice. They also develop multimedia products and services for educational institutions, as well as private and state enterprises.

The ITRC director placed a programmer in charge of the project, and the endeavor has suffered greatly under his leadership, both in terms of kiosk development and team morale. Although the team included three capable, creative multimedia experts with enthusiasm for the task, the programmer imposed a highly directive leadership style on the group. He failed to delegate authority, asked for team input only when assured that opinions would match his own, and his opinion prevailed even in creative areas that were not his expertise or strength.

The programmer was fired when the director overheard him engaging inappropriately with the group. Having just completed an organizational management course, Andy was keen to try out his new knowledge about effective leadership. In particular, he felt the precepts of the servant-leadership theory would be particularly appropriate to the situation. He knew that many behavioral scientists had identified servant-leadership as being well suited to community service-oriented or educational organizations, like the ITRC.

The strong values system espoused by servant-leadership also appealed to him, and he spent a good deal of time preparing for his new responsibilities by first examining his own belief systems, and his motivations for aspiring to leadership. Andy began by calling a team meeting. The team was at first silent, afraid to communicate their true thoughts, but Andy was aware of this fact.

Through quiet, non-judgmental feedback, he was slowly able to encourage open communication among the group members. By allowing the group to air their grievances, Andy acknowledged them as holistic individuals, and encouraged the healing process to begin.

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To move the project to a more positive plane, and to support the growth of individuals, he concluded the meeting by asking each team member to meet with him individually, so that he could learn more about their individual strengths, skills and interests. The team was initially suspicious of this one-on-one strategy, but Andy was consistently positive and supportive with each individual.

After learning their areas of expertise, and thoughts on where they could best serve the project, Andy concluded each conversation by asking the Smith 14 team member to consider how he, the leader, might best support and serve their efforts on the project. Afterwards, the team members compared notes about their individual meetings with the new project manager, and concluded that he seemed like a fair, forward-thinking leader.

Andy had begun to build trust. Andy considered what he learned from each team member, and called the group together the next day.