Adopting a faith-based servant leadership strategy
Servant leadership is an effective leadership method that produces superior business results. Dr. James Sipe, in his landmark study, showed that servant-led companies outperform both the S&P 500 and Jim Collins’ Good to Great companies by significant margins. Yet, in a highly competitive marketplace that clearly and consistently values profits over people, how does servant leadership actually work?
The modern term “servant leadership” was first used by Robert K. Greenleaf in his 1970 essay The Servant as Leader. In this essay, Greenleaf differentiated servant leadership by saying:
“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…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 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?”
Robert Greenleaf recognized that organizations as well as individuals could be servant-leaders. Indeed, he had great faith that servant-leader organizations could change the world. In his second major essay, “The Institution as Servant” (1972), Greenleaf articulated what is often called the “credo.” There he said:
“This is my thesis: caring for persons, the more able and the less able serving each other, is the rock upon which a good society is built. Whereas, until recently, caring was largely person to person, now most of it is mediated through institutions – often large, complex, powerful, impersonal; not always competent; sometimes corrupt. If a better society is to be built, one that is more just and more loving, one that provides greater creative opportunity for its people, then the most open course is to raise both the capacity to serve and the very performance as servant of existing major institutions by new regenerative forces operating within them.”
Since Greenleaf, several authors and practitioners have explored….
characteristics, practices, etc….looked at servant leadership from a number of different ways…
The Core Principles of Servant Leadership
While experts differ in ….they all agree that servant leadership is based on the following core principles:
4 Common Misunderstandings About Servant Leadership
Because of it’s focus on lifting people up, it doesn’t hold people accountable. (actually, more accountable — not just results, but how those results are achieved). Not laissez-faire, but participative.
Sacrifices profits for people. (Puts them on equal footing)
Only for non-profits or small, close-knit companies (Chick Fil A)
3 Phases of Learning to Practice Servant Leadership in Your Organization
Phase 1 of Learning Servant Leadership: Developing the Service Mindset
Phase 2 of Learning Servant Leadership: Serving Others
Phase 3 of Learning Servant Leadership: Scaling Your Service
Conclusion: Becoming a Servant Leader is a Rigorous Process