Many are familiar with the term “servant leadership” and how this is now the new way to lead others. But is it actually new?
The term “Servant Leadership” was introduced by Robert K. Greenleaf in The Servant as Leader, an essay that he first published in 1970. In the essay, he states:
“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?” (information taken from www.greenleaf.org)
Servant leadership takes the form of serving others with the secondary consequence of leading others. In today’s environment most leaders may say they are servant leaders but their actions display a different matter. These individuals lead from the front and their primary agenda is to have their teams execute strategies that will get them elevated status or accolades. The reverse behavior of a servant leader is someone who puts their team first and meet their needs while placing their personal agenda and motives on the back burner.
A recent example of God showing me how to display this character was in a recent objective setting meeting with my team. Instead of assigning people projects, tasks, and objectives I asked them to think about what areas they would be interested in leading this year. In our next meeting I asked them to state their interest in the projects they wanted to lead and I would take the ones they were not interested in. In all honesty, a part of me wanted to assign projects to them because there were certain items I either wanted to lead or did not want to lead. The Lord helped me to understand that I am here to serve and to not be self serving in my leadership position.
Although this is a simple example, what specific things is the Holy Spirit teaching you about servant leadership and how it applies to your role as a leader. In leading people, is your mindset focused on how you get the credit and how to self serve your motives and agenda? Or is focused on going to the back of the line and have your team help themselves to the first serving and you take the last serving? I am learning the term servant leadership is less of the latest saying and more of an action to be done. If Jesus was a servant leader how much more should we be that type of leader?
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