I was asked the following question this week: “Is it possible to drive a culture of servant leadership within an organization when the top leader is 4-30-13 Leader_NEWnot committed to servant leadership?” That is a great question, and one that unfortunately is pretty common in many organizations.

I believe that any leader can have a significant impact on their area of influence within an organization when they are committed to serving their people, as well as the purpose, vision, and values of the organization.

It is always easier to gain traction when the top leader within an organization is on the same page with a culture of servant leadership. However it is not necessary for a leader to succumb to, and emulate an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, when that is what top leadership is most comfortable with.

Leading from a standpoint of positional authority, fear, and intimidation is the easy way to lead. That is why you see it so prevalent in organizations. However that type of leadership will not lead to an engaged team, and high performance over an extended period of time.

Servant leaders are passionate about a greater purpose than themselves and the development and advancement of their people. Servant leaders have courage, and they are committed to doing the right thing, leading in a manner that is appropriate with their values of service and love. Having the courage to buck the trend of a culture of fear and intimidation can lead to:

  • Enhancement of trust with your team
  • A positive impact and model for those people within your sphere of influence
  • A positive example for the rest of the leaders in the organization
  • Positive energy for the organization
  • A possible paradigm shift in top leaders

I absolutely believe that a servant leader can positively impact the rest of the organization, even top leadership, by setting an example of service and love that will lead to positive results in their area of responsibility.  It is definitely worth the effort!


Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Matthew 20:25-28