Those who have studied Robert Greenleaf’s writings are aware of his Quaker roots and one can certainly discern the moral foundation underlying his view of leading as a servant. However, Greenleaf did not promote servant leadership from a religious or Christian view. He saw it as a necessary antidote to the oppressive power-over tactics of leaders and the failed outcome of flawed autocratic ways of leading through fear and intimidation. He knew there must be another way for leaders and their organizations to be find health and success.
Is servant leadership an approach that only works for certain types of leaders, in certain types of organizations? Or, is it limited to leaders of a particular personality within a particular organizational setting? If servant leadership only works in certain circumstances, then it is understandable why servant leadership is not more prevalent in organizations today. But, this is not the case. This is a misconception of what servant leadership is all about; a misconception that presents three distinct challenges to the acceptability of this powerful way of leading. Let’s explore each of these three challenges.
Why, after all these years, is servant leadership not more practiced? Why is this powerful approach so easily dismissed as being irrelevant or impractical to day to day organizational life? This series explores the common misconceptions that often result in leaders ignoring a way of leading that can bring their organizations greater health and higher performance.