Servant Leadership by Robert Greenleaf (Joey Balthazor)

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Servant Leadership by Robert K Greenleaf delves into the widely unknown realm of being a leader through serving the followers. Servant leadership has the potential to be successful in areas such as sport, business, religion, and the government, but it is not utilized by the masses. A servant leader does not seek to be understood, but rather seeks to understand. Servant leaders are consistently aware of the people who follow them and their feelings and emotions.
A servant leader is a servant first and a leader second. They incorporate strong initiatives to recruit people to follow them in a welcoming manner. Servant leaders have an enhanced level of listening and understanding; common leaders of today's world do not listen enough, they hear the message but do not untangle the stimulus. Servant leadership involves a deeper level of understanding to form a complete analysis of what is being said, and develop an imaginative connection between what is said and the implications from the message. They also have the ability to withdraw from complex situations in order to sit back and analyze the situation before making any rash decisions. Servants have the ability to express empathy and acceptance of the followers. They can overlook the lack of ability of some of their followers as opposed to demanding perfection. Servant leaders have a unique ability to intuitively analyze situations and handle different anxieties, such as not having enough information to make a decision or waiting for enough information to make a decision.
Also, a servant leader has the ability to see the unforeseeable; this requires someone to constantly examine the past, present, and future in order to instill faith in their followers that at some point an issue will be resolved. The "lead" part of leaderships deals heavily with foresight, the ability to consciously calculate the likelihood of events through logical predictions; leadership is not the reaction to but the expectation of events.
Servant leadership inherently involves the ability to be aware of surroundings and the ability to perceive. Awareness should be an ongoing process that enables a leader to adequately face situations and formulate alternatives for present and future events. By having a broad range of perception a leader is able to see people as who they are other than what they should be.
Next, persuasion is a common characteristic of leaders, but a servant leader persuades one person at a time to create a personalized message to overcome obstacles and instill change. Servant leaders also attack one issue at a time to avoid frustration and to focus their energy on completing a specific task.
Also, conceptualization is another key skill for a servant leader. Their ability to create individually applied concepts to adhere to differences can open up new opportunities for followers who are often overlooked.
One intriguing way to look at servant leadership is through unlimited liability. In today's world we often try to limit liability to different areas and to different people. Greenleaf argues that a servant leader has unlimited liability to their followers to instill a sense of community to provide trust, honesty and respect amongst the group as a whole.
In addition, servant leaders address problems and issues from within themselves. They first ask, "what am I doing that could be causing this problem," or "what can I do to fix it." Many leaders of today are quick to place the blame on someone else.
Servant leadership is based upon creativity. A servant leader is creative when they deal with problems and issues in their respective organizations. Every problem is different and must be dealt with in different, creative manners. They also possess a strong moral compass, which forces them to consider emotions and implications of their decisions.
Another aspect of the book is the lack of servant leadership in institutions. Institutions are founded on the aspect of hierarchical leadership, but Greenleaf suggests that a team of servant leaders may be better suited to deal with the many criticisms and issues of a large institution like churches, universities, the government, and large businesses. By separating the power amongst a group of servant leaders, power is not solely possessed by an individual and it enables the institution to conceptualize what needs to be changed to stimulate growth.
This idea of servant leadership differs from the styles of leadership discussed in the course material. There are many theories but none of them adhere to the followers as much as servant leadership. Servant leadership is the idea of serving first and leading second, and theories such as path-goal, contingency model, transactional, all put leading in front of everything. It differs from path-goal theory in that a servant leader does not set his or her behavior on the performance of the followers, they seek to understand the abilities of their followers and plan accordingly. It differs from transactional leadership in that a servant leader thinks inside and outside the box, not just inside. In regards to behavioral leadership, people oriented leaders are the closest thing to servant leadership as they are encouraging and choose to listen and observe. Servant leadership is unique because it presents an alternative way of approaching leadership in that serving the people is self-rewarding and ultimately benefits the entity as a whole. The idea of leadership as "self-rewarding" is an underlying principle to servant leadership; Greenleaf argues that if the leader has a deep emotional connection to the work he or she is involved in and that he or she finds comfort in serving the followers, than they will find success.
Servant leadership could be found useful in sports through the use by coaches and administrators. Often coaches display various styles of leadership from which is handed down by previous coaches or adopted from famous coaches. Some coaches display the authoritarian style of leadership who delegate every responsibility and goal without the input of others. This is troublesome especially if the leader lacks the correct vision for the team and has the inability to motivate everyone to jump on the train towards the previously determined goal. There are coaches who are on the coercive side, who will do anything to belittle their athletes in order to gain order and increase effort. These coaches rarely find success and often leave their athletes troubled. Coaches could easily benefit from exhibiting the servant leadership style in order to best connect with the athletes and staff through the enhanced level of listening and understanding. If coaches simply listened to their athletes and fostered their emotions and opinions there would be a greater sense of community on the team and Greenleaf argues that a stronger sense of community enhances the level of trust, respect, and honesty within an organization. Also, servant leadership could be useful in sports because servant leaders accept the limitations of their followers and refuse to demand perfection. Coaches could adapt this train of thought and athletes could potentially feel more comfortable maximizing their true ability instead of trying to become something they are not. It reduces the "failure" aspect of performance and could potentially increase confidence.
Athletic directors and administrators could also adopt this style of leadership, especially in strategic planning. When selecting personnel to oversee different branches of the sport department, an athletic director could select a group of servant leaders to oversee multiple different sectors in order to gather a collection of opinions and input in order to develop strategies and solve problems. Athletic directors could also adapt this style of leadership in order to serve the coaches in order to gain their trust and ensure them there is a sense of community within the organization.
Servant leadership is a deeply emotional and cognizant approach to leadership through serving first. Its use can be beneficial to any organization, especially business and sports, which go hand in hand anyway. The ability to put the followers first enables a leader to build a community filled with trust, respect, and honesty that will lead to success built through high moral character.

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This page contains a single entry by balth006 published on April 15, 2013 7:37 AM.

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