Friday, November 9, 2007

Servant leadership

What defines a servant leader?

I've been pondering that for about 2 weeks now. Certainly a list of behavior could be made, but so often those lists seem artificial. I want a transcendent principle.

And that is it: the principle of transcendence. Servant leaders are connected to something bigger than themselves, and they are willing to take risks or make sacrifices for it. For some it may be their organization, for others it is their religion, and for some hard working moms it is their family. All of these people are servant leaders in their respective fields.

So do you have to be a Christian to be a "servant-leader"? No. Yet Christ certainly was an example of servant leadership. In Mark 10:45, Christ says "the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

IDEA LEADER: As you are leading, what are you also serving? Is it bigger than yourself?


David said...

Nice. I was expecting this to be about stooping, kneeling, or some similar posture. ...

But I take you as saying: Maybe, but it's first and foremost about looking up -- or at whatever larger vision it is that moves us.

If it IS the vision that drives the serving (or non-serving) ... then there's a lot packed in this hunch.

Might invite us to ask, for example, what kind of vision of transcendence enables us to pursue it while at the same time recognizing the value of "the little people" who so often seem to get in our way ...

Stan said...


Though I never actually use the term "vision" in my post, you are correct to pick up on that. All the leadership material that I have read to this point that mentions the concept of vision gives it priority in leadership, and authors like Stephen Covey correctly urge readers to embrace a principle-centered vision.

Now to consider the term "vision" itself. It implies "seeing" doesn't it? So perhaps one question to consider is what do we "see" while we are leading. What is in the forefront of our minds? That may help us determine what our vision is. After we know what our vision really is, then we can determine if our vision is principle-centered or not.