Lesson 3: Topic 18 of 19
In his groundbreaking text Servant Leadership, Greenleaf wrote, “A new moral principle is emerging which holds that the only moral authority deserving one’s allegiance is that which is freely and knowingly granted by the led to the leader in response to, and in proportion to, the clearly evident servant stature of the leader.” That sentiment has only grown stronger in the 40-plus years since he wrote those words. Younger employees are only willing to follow a leader who gains their loyalty by demonstrating servant leadership; merely having a job title will never be enough to do the job. A wise leader, regardless of tribe or generation, will take these desires into account and act accordingly.
Since the Industrial Revolution, the most typical leadership model has been the pyramid – a CEO at the top, with tiers of employees supporting him below. The Servant Leader model challenges you to invert the pyramid with leadership supporting and promoting the employees who make the vision happen. Change won’t happen overnight, but small changes are taking place all over.
The corporate mission statement, vision statement, and code of conduct are drafted and approved by the C-suite people; they bear the greatest responsibility for the ethics of the organization. But don’t wait for them; they may not fall in line with the stated values during your tenure. Choose to be a person who acts respectfully and responsibly because it’s as good for you personally, internally as it is for the bottom line.
We trust that this course will cause you to think about your leadership style. Do you lead with a heavy fist, stepping on whomever you need to, to achieve power? Do you go wherever the wind blows, giving those around you a sense of instability? Or do you, as is our hope, lead with the desire to make those around you successful?
You, as a person of influence, have the opportunity to guide others, whether explicitly (due to your position), implicitly (through demonstrated persistent excellence of character), or both. Throughout your career, you will have many chances to do so. Servant leadership is a tried and true tactic – no, a lifestyle – that integrates who the ethical leader is internally with an applied work setting. The boss who sets aside ego in order to support both the team and corporate goals is a cut above in character. That is the kind of leadership needed today.