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Servant Leadership Model

Do a Google search on "servant leadership" and you will get plenty of hits (2.5 million for me just then). So if you don't know what it is cruise on over to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Servant_leadership and check out the 21st century "Cliff's Notes" on the topic.

Disclaimer: as this blog is a from of note keeping for me - an extension of my cognitive model of the universe of knowledge - this article and the series of article may be in great flux until complete (or good enough to quit editing).
Greenleaf's enlightenment of Servant Leadership stems from his reading of  Hermann Hesse's short novel, Journey to the East. "Hesse's story is an account of a mythical journey by a group of people on a spiritual quest where the recognition of the true leader of the group takes place as a result of his acts of service and self-sacrifice for the benefit of the whole group. As Spears tells it, upon reading this story, it seemed suddenly clear to Greenleaf that a 'great leader is first experienced as a servant to others, and this simple fact is central to his or her greatness ... true leadership emerges from those whose primary motivation is a deep desire to help others' " (3).

I find it troubling that in Hesse's story the servant leader, Leo, abandons the group and it disbands, failing in it's quest to find the ultimate truth.  Our hero of the story later searches and finds Leo, and it turns out that Leo is the leader of the "League" which sat about to test the group's faith with the journey.  So is this parable to be emulated, do we wish our servant leader's to test and abandon us when we fail?

I do however like the concept of a leader as servant to the followship and the purpose.  I think we should make our diagrams and models reflect this by placing the leaders at the bottom of the diagrams (org charts) with their actions and behaviors supporting the team (followship) within the context of their shared purpose.

This orientation was done on some of the first Org Charts by the Erie railroad.

Here we see one of the first organizational charts.  Notice the CEO and Board of Directors is at the bottom of the page.  Why did later organization invert this orientation?  Well, in the English speaking/reading world we read right to left and top to bottom.  Where is the executive summary on a report?  Is it where summations are typically found - at the bottom of a body?  No.  The executive summary is at the top of the body.  Presumable because we wish to reduce the work load on the executive that doesn't have enough energy to read the complete report and can just intuitively understand the reports purpose from a summary.  Well my guess is the CEO doesn't like having to read about all these other people to find their name on the org chart - solution?  Invert the chart.  Problem - now the body of the org is seen to be in service to the leader.

Show me a leader that creates an org chart, and I can quickly see if the leader is a servant leader. While Greenleaf's Best Test is difficult - mine is simple.
"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?“
Lao Tzu says of the leader, "A leader is best when people barely know that he exists, not so good when people obey and acclaim him, worst when they despise him. Fail to honor people, they fail to honor you": But of a good leader, who talks little, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will all say, "We did this ourselves." (4: Spears, p. 242)

Have you been looking for how to turn the platitude of "Servant Leader" into action?  My recommendation is to buy Management 3.0 Workout book.

#Workout is built on a foundation of actionable advice

Management 3.0 

What is the definition of leadership?
Can anyone be a leader? Can anyone manage a team? We believe management is not only the manager’s responsibility. It’s everyone’s job! Leadership pursues the goal of growing and transforming organizations that are great places to work for, where people are engaged, the work is improved and clients are simply delighted.

You might want to start your change toward servant leadership by changing yourself.  A thought leader in this area is Christopher Avery.  Try his workshops or read his book, The Responsibility Process - Unlocking your natural ability to live and lead with power.

See Also:

A Review of Leadership ModelsWhat is Servant Leadership - at Greenleaf's Org - he who coins the term, defines the term.
Journey to the East - Wikipedia - Greenleaf's inspiration for the concept


References:

1) Leadership Theory and Practice - 6th Ed. by Peter Northouse.
2) Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness - 25th Ann. Ed. by Robert Greenleaf
3) The Myth of Servant-Leadership: A Feminist Perspective by Deborah Eicher-Catt
4) Reflections of Leadership. by Larry Spears(1995).
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