When we talk about leadership, we refer to people who motivate, influence, and build up relationships, based on trust, respect, and integrity. Servant leaders are people who serve first. So what is Servant leadership? Servant leader ship is “when people lead at a higher level, they make the world a better place, because their goals are focused on the greater good” (Blanchard, 2010, p. 261). For example, educators are visionaries who help attain goals, instill value, and develop potential leaders.
Educators assist in strengthening and developing the mind and body, so individuals an apply their talents and become great servant leaders in the areas of healing, educating, and inspiring. Around two thousand years ago, Jesus, an educator, exemplified the fully committed and effective servant leader (Blanchard, 2010, IPPP). John C. Maxwell (2007) mentions that Apostle Paul used Jesus as the ultimate example of servant leadership (p. 1472).
The book of Philippians, chapter two verses two through eleven (Philippians 2:2-11, New King James Version), discussed how Paul encourages his audience to be humble and live selflessly; he reminds them of how Christ was the ultimate leader who made the ultimate sacrifice (Maxwell, 2007, p. 1473). Maxwell (2007) goes on to say that Jesus stepped through six levels as He moved downward toward us; he gave up His divine form, He emptied Himself of any rights, He became a man, He became a servant, He was obedient to the point of death, and He died a terrible kind of death (p. 473). Basically, one could say that Jesus relinquished the glory that He had due to the fact that he was deity and He lacked recognition and glory to/by unbelievers while He was on earth. He also took he form of a servant by becoming as a servant to man and He appeared in the form of man so that He could die for our sins. Jesus illustrated true humility in action by humbling himself and becoming obedient unto death which resulted in the humility that He displayed in willingly going to the cross to accomplish the will of our Father. According to John C.
Maxwell (2007), Jesus displayed humility in coming to earth, emptying Himself and assuming the position of a man, taking the form of a abandonment, and by becoming mortal and dying (crucifixion) (p. 1470). Apostle Paul lams that all effective leaders must live such a selfless life and that Jesus is an example of what servant leadership actually is (Maxwell, 2007, p. 1470). In a 1970 essay Robert Greengage states that servant leaders are servants first and leaders later (Degrade, Tillie, & Neal, 2001). Ken Blanchard states leadership has two parts, “vision and implementation. The visionary role is the leadership aspect of servant leadership and implementation is the servant aspect of servant leadership (Blanchard, 2010 p. 262). In the visionary role, leaders must communicate the session values and beliefs the organization stands for and how organizational values encompass the individual value of its members (Blanchard, 2010, p. 262). Once people are clear on where they are going, the task of implementation kicks in. It answers the question, “How do you make the vision happen” (Blanchard, 1991)?
The biggest thing leaders need in order to become a servant leader is to get their egos out of the way. Leaders who are self-serving see themselves as the center of the feel good about their self and will either hide and hope that no one notices them ND/or overcompensate and go out to try to control their environment (Blanchard, 2010, p. 274). On the other hand, servant leaders usually have high self-esteem and have no problem giving credit to others. They want to help their people achieve their goals through teaching and coaching individuals to do their best; they achieve this through developing certain characteristics.
The ten major characteristics of servant leadership are: listening, empathy, healing relationships, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to human resource placement, and commitment to building community (Nab, 2011). Without being knowledgeable of your talents, you cannot move forward without failure. Knowledge is control and great leadership starts with direction. Strengths of Servant Leadership The strengths of servant leadership includes self-awareness, morals, concern for others, and simplicity (Four Needed Strengths, 2011, p. ); all of which has its contributions to organizational development. Self-awareness is vital to servant leadership. Individuals already have the influence of cultural concepts of leadership resent in their lives so being self-aware of those influences will help the individual to combat them. According to Four Needed Strengths (201 1), servant leaders need to take the time to listen not only to themselves but to others as well; they must take the time to peel the layers back of their character to know who they are and what they stand for (p. 1) which takes me to the next strength, morals.
Morals tie heavily with self-awareness and any leader needs to have morals and a strong sense of ethics (Four Needed Strengths, 2011, p. 1). The ethics, morals, values, creditability, and integrity that one possesses should drive their actions and how they lead but without them, large shadows will impact how they lead. The next strength is concern for others. Having concerns for others is about putting the need of others before your own needs. Servant leadership is about serving others over self-interest so servant leaders are less likely to practice self-serving behaviors which are behaviors that hurt others.
Four Needed Strengths (2011) noted, “If you want to take servant leadership seriously you must first have concern for the needs of those that you lead with a servant’s heart (p. 1). The last strength that I’m going to discuss is simplicity. Since the goal of servant leadership is to serve others that should be the main shared vision for everyone who is doing it. According Four Needed Strengths (201 1), by keeping it simple you can navigate back to the shared vision goal; keeping the aim simple and focused (p. 1).
Instead of the traditional leadership style of dominating subordinates, servant leadership empowers subordinates and inspires them to perform; it places great importance on teamwork and building relationships. It also contributes to the all-around development of the employees. The servant leader remains patient, is forgiving, and always looks for the good in others (Nab, 2011). Again, this contributes to the all-around development of the employees. Weakness of Just as we have strengths in the belief of servant leadership, there are also weaknesses that we should stay away from.
To be a servant leader and have no sense of direction or integrity is purposeless and a weakness. Sadly, a servant leader doesn’t always lead by example, and many people are not influence by their purpose, of being a servant leader, you want understand the direction in which you must go as leader. The decision to act with selfishness, in fear, or without compassion is another weakness. It remains to be seen whether mankind can avoid the negative impact of rebellious individuals who refuse to be servant people.
Some critics would argue that servant leadership has a too soft approach and unsuited for a competitive environment. They feel that serving leads to a situation where accountability or responsibility gets diluted. Others feel that when the company is faced with issues of downsizing, servant leadership would fall flat on its face because servant adhering thrust on human resource development. All members may not be on board with the commitment to building community among the team members and would prefer personal lives and work separate (Nab, 2011).
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