“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.” (Greenleaf, 1970)
This quote from The Servant as Leader by Robert K. Greenleaf is foundational to the leadership philosophy referred to as “Servant-Leadership.” While the concept of serving first in order to lead appears to some to be a paradox, the idea is reflected frequently in business and management literature. From personal relationships to business we are reminded of the value of looking beyond the most immediate to the perspective of others. Two thoughts that reflect this perspective are:
- “Seek first to understand then to be understood.” (Covey, 1989)
- The solution lies in “the principle of shared value, which involves creating economic value in a way that also creates value for society by addressing its needs and challenges. Businesses must reconnect company success with social progress.” (Porter and Kramer 2011)
I have been engaging leaders from all levels of organizations and from profit, nonprofit, and educational institutions in Servant-Leader roundtable conversations since 2011,. The philosophy of Servant-Leadership can be easily found in books or on the internet. Cultivating a practice of Servant-Leadership within an organization requires consistency, perseverance, and patience. This is what makes Servant-Leadership both challenging and exciting.
The Servant-Leader roundtables I facilitate are an opportunity for diverse people to gather to explore the intersection of Servant Leadership and systemic disenfranchisement. The roundtables are first-person conversations open to everyone. The purpose of the roundtables is to serve each individual by giving them an opportunity to share their own experiences and the experiences of others on their Servant-Leadership journey, and to serve the group as a whole by cultivating a shared vision of what it means to be a Servant-Leader.
If you would like to become a part of a, free, monthly public Servant-Leader roundtable in the Milwaukee area please contact me to receive gathering reminders and updates.
If your organization is ready to embrace Servant-Leadership as a cultural norm I can help develop the knowledge and practices of Servant-Leaders as an organizational strategy. Please contact me for more information
, Barrier Knocker Downer
by Design, Inc.
- Covey, Stephen R. 1989. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. Simon & Schuster, Inc
- Greenleaf, Robert K. 1970. The Servant as Leader. Retrieved from http://www.benning.army.mil/infantry/199th/ocs/content/pdf/The%20Servant%20as%20Leader.pdf
- Porter, M. E. and M. R. Kramer (2011). “The Big Idea: Creating Shared Value. How to reinvent capitalism—and unleash a wave of innovation and growth.” Harvard Business Review 89(1-2).