Robert K. Greenleaf is the person who started modern servant leadership following in his 1970 essay. In order for one to become a servant leader, he/she has to have the following qualities: awareness, persuasion, empathy, conceptualization, listening steward ship, foresight, building community and growth. In his essay he used Christianity as basis of servant leadership. He often associated servant leadership with Bible and Jesus Christ (Larry, et al 2004).
I would like to disagree with the belief that servant leadership is not compatible with other religions. First of all I would like to say that you don’t necessarily have to be a Christian to be a servant leader. Servant leadership is a combination of values, philosophy, and a series of every day practices which can be accomplished by anyone whether he/she has faith or not. Let me focus on the United States of America.
Jesus taught his people to be servant leaders. US started as a Christian country and still it is. United States people have diverse religious beliefs, but their politics, history and culture has been influenced by Christian beliefs. About 75% and 80% of America population say they are Christians. The fact that Jesus Christ taught his people to be servant leaders unfortunately did not make a big impact on them.
Jesus Christ distinguished clearly between the service model and power model of leadership and advised his people to be servants. Jesus’ teaching on this topic could probably the earliest and most straight teaching on servant leadership in history. The teaching on this topic can be found in the gospel of mark and the gospel of Matthew
Jesus was so keen on making this point such that he washed his disciple’s feet on the last night. This was to demonstrate how they should serve each other. These teachings are not about nature of God neither they are theological or the divinity of Jesus Christ. They were about how people should live and how they should teat each other. Many Christians have taken these teachings and are teaching and living servant leadership. What makes me wonder is why more and more Christians are shying away from servant leadership. I think the answer lies in the impact of our culture (Trevor, 2007).
One time there was a national leadership conference organized by a large church in the U S. the conference lasted two and half days long. It had many speakers and presentations. None of them mention about Jesus’ teachings. The speakers talked about leadership of the secular and commercial world yet the topics matched the qualities defined by principles of servant leadership. This showed that there are leaders who are servants yet they don’t get their qualities from the bible or the teachings of Jesus Christ.
To be a servant leader you don’t have to be a Christian. What makes someone a servant leader is the ability to meet the qualities mentioned at the beginning of this essay. We have seen leaders from different corners of the world who are servant leaders but they are not Christians. Some people avoid servant leadership because they think they have to Christians to adopt it while those in Christianity avoid it so as to get along with their culture. These are cultures where power models are the norm.
One of the qualities of servant leadership is listening. Traditionally leaders were valued for their skills in communication and decision making. Servant leaders should reinforce these skills by committing themselves to listen to others. Servant leaders are ken to listen and weigh will of a group. They look to listen to what their people. Listening also involves listening to ones inner voice and understands ones spirit, body and mind and establish what they are communicating (Michael, et al 2008).
One of the people who can be given a title of a servant leader is the former president of the united states of America George Washington. He was a farmer and a surveyor. George focused on public service and was respected as a person of good example as he had admirable character. He was considered the father of his country due to the qualities he had.
George Washington was aristocratic gentleman of unique character. When he was called to head the revolutionary army during his country’s struggle for independence, he accepted and led the war to defend the interests of his country. After being the most powerful man in America for eight and a half years, he resigned his position and went back to continue with his farming duties. He became the unanimous choice for the president of the U S yet he was reluctant. He only served two terms. His final and maybe the greatest act of service to the U S is that he stopped serving his country as president and went back to his home in Mount Vernon, Virginia. He could only be compared to Cincinnatus, a roman president who also retired voluntarily. Washing will be remembered for his discipline, strength of character, his principled leadership, his loyal patriotism and huge devotion to serve his public (john, 2006).
This is not the only value for servant leadership that George Washington had. He developed his community through various development programs. He was generally aware of himself and who he was. He was also a great dreamer he looked at a problem from a perspective of conceptualizing and he thought beyond day to day realities. He understood lessons from the past the present reality and probable consequence of a decision in future. Washington knew how to persuade and convince others. He did not use authority when making decisions.
Self awareness and emotional intelligence play a big role in modeling the capacities of a servant leader. Self awareness and emotional intelligence strengthens a servant leader. This determines the personality of a servant leader. Servant leaders are many types of leaders, this depending on specific circumstances and personalities. Once a servant leader is aware of who he/she is, and is intelligent emotionally, it becomes easier for him to under other people. These two values are great assets that any servant leader would die to possess.
One thing that servant leaders have in common is that they go to organisations or groups and try to establish any missing link or gap or blockage that is hindering this group from achieving what it wants to achieve. If there is, they identify that missing link or gap or blockage. If they are able to identify it, they think whether they can do something about it. If they can’t do something, can someone else do that duty? Since the gap or missing link will differ from different scenarios, servant leader does not perform the same action in each case.
Self awareness and emotional confidence brings about a full package of values to the servant leaders. The package makes the leadership moral, practical, ethical and effective. It is not only virtuous but it also gets results. If a leader is good at identifying and meeting needs of those he serves, his customers, patients, clients, members and citizens, it means that your organization will be successful. He will be offering them what they require. That means they will have a strong base for his organization (James, 2005).