Author: Guest Blogger, Jeff Joutras, an Executive Director of The John Maxwell Team
Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase “Servant Leadership” which has been bandied about for sometime now. Some of the most famous servant leaders include Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi. Those examples should help put the phrase in perspective for you and give you a good sense of what it is based on the life they lived.
Robert Greenleaf first brought Servant Leadership to the modern era in a paper back in 1970, fifty years ago, when he was working with AT&T®. Robert Greenleaf railed against the pervasive authoritarian leadership styles of his day.
“A new moral principle is emerging, which holds that the only authority deserving of one’s allegiance is that which is freely and knowingly granted by the led to the leader in response to, and in proportion to, the clearly evident servant stature of the leader. Those who choose to follow this principle will not casually accept the authority of existing institutions. Rather, they will freely respond only to individuals who are chosen as leaders because they are proven and trusted as servants.” – Robert Greenleaf
To be honest, I haven’t really thought much about the phrase Servant Leadership until recently, and I’ve served in multiple leadership capacities for over thirty-five years. Although, I’ve certainly worked alongside and for what I would consider many “servant leaders.”
One of the definitions of the word ‘servant’ is “a devoted and helpful follower and supporter”. At first glance, the term servant and leader don’t seem to go together. Do they?
How can you and I become a “helpful follower and supporter” to our co workers, our community, our organization and yet lead at the same time? Greenleaf suggests leaders need to serve first.
Have you ever worked for someone who seemed to do things for you, was helpful to you in ways you didn’t expect or looked out for your interests? If you did, then they were probably a servant leader.
A servant leader is someone who isn’t concerned with their title or position, but is more concerned with assisting and putting the needs of other people before their own. They have an unselfish mindset.
Servant Leaders are willing to work alongside you. For some leaders this may seem paradoxical, because many leaders feel the need to “control’, but in reality, by letting go, by looking out for others, they actually end up harnessing the talents of their staff in ways they never could have imagined.
I know the servant leaders I worked with and for, I was willing to do more for them because of what they had done for me.
Here’s a brief Servant Leadership roadmap you may want to consider:
Servant Leadership is needed more today than ever. Perhaps you and I won’t be the next Martin Luther King, Jr. or the next Mother Theresa, but we can all serve. Servant Leadership should be the model we live. It’s timeless. It’s worthwhile.
As an Executive Director of The John Maxwell Team, Jeff is certified to facilitate, speak, train and coach individuals and groups in the areas of leadership development, professional skills and personal growth.
Trained and mentored by John Maxwell and mentors of his world-class faculty, Jeff helps individuals and teams improve their productivity, performance and profitability. For more information, please visit Jeff’s website: Step Forward Into Growth.
FarWell Culture Alignment experts help match up an organization’s mission and values with employee and customer experience across an organization.
FarWell trains leaders and employees through the transition promoting adoption. We lead sessions on values, methods and expectations.
Reach out to FarWell to learn more about how to adopt Servant Leadership as a practice across an organization.