Servant Leadership Paul Jones Grand Canyon University MGT 420 – Org. Behavior & Management October 17, 2011 Introduction Although the notion of servant leadership has been recognized in leadership literature since Burns’ (1978) and Greenleaf’s (1977) publications, the movement has gained momentum only recently. Bowman (1997) argues that to date there is only anecdotal evidence to support a commitment to an understanding of servant leadership. For example, Spears’ (1995) identification of ten characteristics of servant leadership (i. . listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and building community) is based solely on his readings of Greenleaf’s essays, and is not grounded in solid research studies. This paper will attempt to examine the philosophical foundation of servant leadership by extracting several value-laden principles drawn from Greenleaf’s and Jesus Christ’s representation of the concept.
This will be accomplished by responding to the following questions: a) “Although servant leadership is often associated with the Bible and Jesus Christ, it is totally compatible with most religions and theories of philosophy”. Using any two religions or philosophies, explain whether you agree or disagree with the statement above by applying Greenleaf’s characteristics of servant leadership as the criteria for your evaluation. b) Describe one attribute or capacity of servant leadership, and provide a practical example of when you have seen a leader demonstrate that capacity.
Describe the impact the leader’s behavior had on the situation; and c) Explain the importance of self-awareness and emotional intelligence and the role they play in enabling you as a leader to model the capacities of characteristics of servant leadership. I agree that Greenleaf’s definition of servant leadership is directly associated with the concept of charismatic leadership, which is located in the Bible, and is totally compatible with most religions and theories of philosophy in light of the rinciples and values that are present. Why? Servant leadership shares common biblical roots. The notion of servant leadership originates in the Bible. The earliest and most significant study was conducted by sociologist Max Weber (1947). Weber (1947:48) in his seminal book The Theory of Social and Economic Organization as “a quality of an individual personality by virtue of which he [the leader] is set apart from ordinary men and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional qualities. This definition, as Bass rightly states (1999), borrows much from the biblical notion of charisma as being endowed with the gift of divine grace. In fact, Weber develops his definition based on the use of the word `charisma’ in the Bible (i. e. Paul’s epistles to the Romans and Corinthians) and, primarily, in religious organizations (i. e. churches) where it is used as a basis of legitimacy for various functional roles and figureheads. In the Bible, unlike the now world’s self-reliant and self-seeking strong natural leaders, God’s leaders were servants, stewards, and shepherds.
And as they faithfully pursued their high calling, God commended His people to them: “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. . . . Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you (Heb. 13:7, 17). According to Greenleaf (1977), servant leaders are leaders who put other people’s needs, aspirations and interests above their own. The servant leader’s deliberate choice is to serve others.
In fact, the servant leader’s chief motive is to serve first, as opposed to lead (Greenleaf, 1977). Furthermore, servant leaders seek to transform their followers to “grow healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, and more likely themselves to become servants” (Greenleaf, 1977:13-14) In the bible as in Greenleaf’s definition the principles of servant leader are of the same nature and content but from another time for example: “The servant-leader is trustworthy (faithful) (I Cor. 4:2); Servant-leadership is a lowly position, yet with true dignity and authority; and the servant-leader is a servant by nature. The servant leaders of old and new know what’s right and wrong. ” For philosophical support, I refer to Stephen R. Covey and Immanuel Kant. Mr. Covey states, “That the essential quality that sets servant leaders apart from others is that they live by their conscience, the inward moral sense of what is right and what is wrong. That one quality is the difference between leadership that works and leadership like servant leadership that endures. There is a mass of evidence that shows that the moral sense, this conscience, this inner light, is a universal phenomenon.
The spiritual or moral nature of people is also independent of religion or of any religious approach, culture, geography, nationality, or race. Yet all of the enduring major religious traditions of the world are unified when it comes to certain underlying principles or values. ” Immanuel Kant said, “I am constantly amazed by two things: the starry heavens above and the moral law within. ” “Conscience is the moral law within. It is the overlapping of moral law and behavior. Many believe as do I, that it is the voice of god to his children.
Others may not share this belief but still recognize that there is an innate sense of fairness and justice, an innate sense of right and wrong, of what is kind and what is unkind, of what contributes and what detracts, of what beautifies and what destroys, of what is true and what is false. Admittedly, culture translates this basic moral sense into different kinds of practices and words, nut this translation does not negate the underlying sense of right and wrong. As I work in nations of different religions and different cultures, I have seen this universal conscience revealed time and again.
There really is a set of values, a sense of fairness, honesty, respect, and contribution that transcends the ages and that is also self-evident. It is as self-evident as the requirement of trustworthiness to produce trust. ” Fading, Stone, and Winston (1999) assert that Greenleaf’s notion of servant leadership is similar to Burn’s transforming leadership, a view shared by Graham (1991). Graham (1991) postulates that servant leadership, while similar to charismatic leadership, has particular characteristics that distinguish it from other previous charismatic leadership models.
In particular, Graham (1991) argues that servant leadership exceeds Bass’ (1985) transformational leadership model at least in two ways: (1) its recognition of the leader’s social responsibilities to serve those people who are marginalized by a system, and (2) its dedication to followers’ needs and interests, as opposed to those of their own or their organization. However, there remain enormous conceptual and empirical gaps between the concepts of servant leadership and the bibles charismatic leadership. Unlike harismatic leadership which has been systematically studied and developed into a rigorously tested theory, the notion of servant leadership remains a movement and an untested theory (Bass, 1999). Good leaders build on the strengths of their colleagues and subordinates. No man or woman can do everything alone. Every leader needs around him or her, a body of trusted colleagues and subordinates. Such synergy leads to success. If all the members of an organization do what they ought to do, they will make each other successful. Servant leadership has quite a few capacities, but the one that intrigued me the most is empathy.
The servant-leader strives to understand and empathize with others. People need to be accepted and recognized for their special and unique spirits. One assumes the good intentions of subordinates and colleagues and does not reject them as people, even when one may be forced to refuse to accept certain behaviors or performance. The most successful servant-leaders are those who have become skilled empathetic listeners. (Block, P. (1996) Proper empathic engagement helps one to understand and anticipate the behavior of another.
Apart from the automatic tendency to recognize the emotions of others, one may also deliberately engage in empathic reasoning. Two general methods have been identified here. A person may simulate ‘pretend’ versions of the beliefs, desires, character traits and context of the other and see what emotional feelings this leads to. Or, a person may simulate the emotional feeling and then look around for a suitable reason for this to fit. (Goldie 2000). Since I don’t work for anyone, the best practical example that I can use is an observation I had the opportunity to view because I was working on the project.
There was an accident with a piece of machinery that hurt a couple of people from different cultures and races (Korean and Cuban), the manager who was Korean empathized with the Cubans more than the Koreans, so it seemed to me and quite a few of the bystanders. So, why would a Korean empathize with people not of his race more so than with the ones of his race? Later I discovered that the manager and the Cubans that had been injured had been living next door to one another for 12 years. Research suggests that people are more able and willing to empathize with those most similar to themselves.
In particular, empathy increases with similarities in culture and living conditions. Empathy is more likely to occur between individuals whose interaction is more frequent. (Levenson, and Reuf 1997; and Hoffman 2000: 62) There are concerns that the empathizer’s own emotional background may affect or distort what emotions they perceive in others (Goleman 1996: p. 104). Empathy is not a process that is likely to deliver certain judgments about the emotional states of others. It is a skill that is gradually developed throughout life, and which improves the more contact we have with the person with whom one empathizes.
Accordingly, any knowledge gained of the emotions of the other must be revisable in light of further information. Self-Awareness and Emotional Intelligence in servant leadership go hand in hand. Self-Awareness is having a clear perception of your personality, including strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions. Self-Awareness allows you to understand other people, how they perceive you, your attitude and your responses to them in the moment. The notion of self-awareness has been associated with self-image, self-esteem, self-perception, and self-concept (Leonard, Beauvais and Scholl, 1995; Sosik and Dworakivsky, 1998).
Using this definition, the leaders’ self-awareness involves the extent to which they are aware of their thoughts, beliefs and values. Like other individuals, leaders behave in ways consistent with their self-concepts (Sosik and Dworakivsky, 1998). Therefore, the servant leader’s primary intent to serve may emanate from their self-concepts as an altruist, moral person. While on the other hand, Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to the ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions. Some researchers suggest that emotional intelligence can be learned and strengthened, while others claim it is an inborn characteristic.
Since 1990, Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer have been the leading researchers on emotional intelligence. In their influential article “Emotional Intelligence,” they defined emotional intelligence as, “the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions. ” (Salovey 1990) As you develop self-awareness you are able to make changes in the thoughts and interpretations you make in your mind.
Changing the interpretations in your mind allows you to change your emotions. Having a clear understanding of your thought and, behavior patterns helps you understand other people. This ability facilitates better personal and professional relationships. Self-awareness is one of the attributes of Emotional Intelligence and the both of them are important factors in achieving success. Conclusion As appealing and refreshing as Greenleaf’s conceptualization of servant leadership is, Greenleaf is not the individual who first introduced the notion of servant leadership to everyday human endeavor.
It was Christianity’s founder, Jesus Christ, who first taught the concept of servant leadership. From the narrative accounts of his life in the Bible, it is evident that servant leadership was taught and practiced more than two thousand years ago. This practice has been echoed in the lives of ancient monarchs for over 1000 years. Nair (1994:59) asserted that the importance of service to leadership has been acknowledged and practiced for over a thousand years: Ancient monarchs acknowledged that they were in the service of their country and their people–even if their actions were not consistent with this.
Modern coronation ceremonies and inaugurations of heads of state all involve the acknowledgement of service to God, country, and the people. Politicians define their role in terms of public service. And service has always been at the core of leadership in the spiritual arena, symbolized at the highest level by Christ washing the feet of his disciples. References Bass B. & Avolio, B. (1994); Improving Organizational effectiveness, Thousand Oaks, CA. Sage Publications. Burns, J. M. (1978) Leadership, New York: Harper and Row Greenleaf, R. K. (1977). Servant Leadership: A journey into the nature of legitimate power and greatness.
Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press. Greenleaf, R. K. (1991). The servant as leader. Indianapolis, IN. The Robert K. Greenleaf Center Goldie Santiago, 2000 Holy Bible Leonard, Beauvais, and Scholl, 1995; Sosik and Dworakivsky, (1998) Patterson, K. (2003), “Servant leadership: a theoretical model”, unpublished doctoral dissertation, Graduate School of Business, Regent University. Salovey 1990 Stone, G. A, Russell, R. F. , & Patterson, K. (2004), Leadership & Organization Development Journal 25(4), p. 349-361. Yukl, G. (1998), Leadership in Organizations, 4th ed. , Prentice-Hall, Inc. , Upper Saddle River, NJ.