Servant Leadership Essay

1684 words - 7 pages

When it comes to leading, one may use different styles and different theories. Some of the theories include trait, behavior, and contingency. Daft (2008) stated that the trait approach is an understanding of leadership which focuses on leader’s personal traits. The behavior approach focuses on the leader adopting the appropriate behavior. He also indicated that the contingency theory explains the relationship between leadership styles and effectiveness in specific situations. It combines the traits and behavior approaches (Daft, 2008, pp.38, 43, 64). There is an effective and popular leadership style that has integrated the contingency theory—it’s servant leadership. The term servant leadership, as Jones-Burbridge (2012) wrote, was first conveyed by Robert K. Greenleaf in his essay titled “The Servant as Leader” published in 1970. In his essay, Greenleaf gave the following descriptions of a servant leader:
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. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions (Jones-Burbridge, 2012, par. 3).
Servant leadership style contributes to the ability of the leader to serve his/her constituents and empower them for a greater purpose. The effectiveness of the servant leadership depends on the leader’s personal attitudes, the leader’s service to followers, and the leader’s ability to build the organization’s community.
Servant leadership proves its effectiveness by starting with the leader’s personal attitude. This effectiveness comes from the inherent characteristic of the leader. Boone, Makhani (2012) referred to Kent M. Keith, CEO of the Greenleaf Center who stated, “If we are going to be servant-leaders, we need to start by being servants...That must be who we really are (Boone, Makhani, 2012, p.84, 85). Hence, in order for the servant leader to be effective in serving, leading, and empowering others, he/she must possess the intrinsic value of being a servant. The style should not be mechanistic, but the leader should reveal the service’s authenticity by the leader’s comportment. Otherwise, service will not likely be the main factor of the leading, and the servant leadership style will not be in effect. The attitude of servant leadership should be service first, and from that service, leadership will follow (Boone, Makhani, 2012, p. 85, as cited in Sendjaya, Sarros, 2002). There are other leadership styles, such as charismatic, transformational leadership, as well as leader-member exchange that also follow a serving and empowering approach. However, when compared to these styles, servant leadership is differentiated by the underlying moral objective of serving others (Boone, Makhani, 2012, p.85 as cited in Mayer et al., 2008; Barbuto and Wheeler, 2006; Graham, 1991). Consequently,...

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