Servant Leadership Essay

2830 words - 12 pages

Servant Leadership
Servant Leadership is not a leadership style but a state of being. The decision to embark on the mission of Servant Leadership cannot be relegated only to the office. If fully committed to being successful, a servant-leader will embrace all the components needed to be a servant and a leader in every aspect of their life. In this paper, I will explore the origins of Servant Leadership, how it can be implemented to build a successful “leader”, and how Servant Leadership effects employee satisfaction. I also found that Servant Leadership is often synonymous with some sort of religious foundation. Many of the articles I read likened Servant Leadership to religious ...view middle of the document...

Greenleaf is saying that you cannot possible lead if you don’t support and “foster” your followers. The idea of being a servant is not to get everyone coffee in the morning or be the only one to stay late to finish the project that needs to meet deadline. It means empowering your “team” to be the best players that they can be. Allow them to shine, grow, and reach for success that they might otherwise find unobtainable from a transactional or autocratic leader. The Greenleaf website states on its What is Servant Leadership page “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” (Greenleaf.1970).
So where did the idea originate? Robert Greenleaf read a book in the 1950’s, by Hermann Hesse, called “The Journey to the East”. In the story, the lead character embarks on a magical journey with an unacquainted group of men who are his sworn brothers in a secret sect known as the league. The journey takes them wandering through fantastical places, all the while accompanied by a servant named Leo. Leo amuses them with songs, eases their minds, and moves seamlessly between them all. At a particularly difficult part of the journey, Leo mysteriously disappears. The cohesiveness that existed between the men disappears and they part ways disgruntled and suspicious of each other. The lead character falls from the sect, disenchanted with its doctrine, and leads an unfulfilling life fraught with unanswered questions. He feels that the key to his future happiness may lay with the finding of Leo. Once he finds him, Leo is revealed as the leader of the league and welcomes the man back in. The man’s journey has ended, seemingly where he started, but the clarity of truths revealed to him was life changing.
When I read the book, I could only wonder how Greenleaf took the leap from Hesse’s story to his entire philosophy on Servant Leadership. So I read the book again. Right before Leo’s disappearance he had a conversation with the lead character about the law of service.
“He who wishes to live long must serve, but he who wishes to rule does not live long.”
”Then why do so many strive to rule?”
”Because they do not understand. There are few who are born to be masters; they remain happy and healthy. But all the others who have only become masters through endeavor, end in nothing.”
”In what nothing, Leo?”
”For example, in the sanitoria.” (Hesse.1956.P.34)
This passage would be a good start. It embodies the need for humble servants to step up to lead in order to accomplish the greater good. According to Leo, if your main drive is to be the ruler, you will burn out far before you can reap the benefits. This example may...

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