Defining Servant Leadership: The Major Elements

Defining Servant Leadership: The Major Elements August 4, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 11.28.47 AMPeople enter into leadership for a variety of reasons, including passion and skills and gifts and a desire to lead and a desire to control and — here comes our theme — a desire to serve. I believe many today who are leaders have gifts and skills and passion but too often are dominated by a desire to control and lead and not a desire to serve and lead through empowering others.

Gospel-shaped leadership is servant leadership, not control leadership and not dominating leadership.

No one knows this better than Kent M. KeithThe Case for Servant Leadership (2d edition; Terrace Press). Kent has led at the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, has been president of Chaminade University, and is now the president at Pacific Rim Christian University in Hawaii. Kris and I have been in Kent’s home and experienced the (servant and generous) hospitality of Kent and Elizabeth. (Just in case you didn’t know, Kent is the author of the Paradoxical Commandments — see them at bottom of post.)

The servant model of leadership counters the power model, which is focused on “how to accumulate and wield power, how to make people do things, how to attack and win. It is about clever strategies, applying pressure, and manipulating people to get what you want” (19). That is, it is realpolitik — a theory that is distant from a theory of ethics. Servant leadership theory is first established in ethics and then works out that ethic through leadership.

Here are the key practices of servant leadership?

1. Self-awareness.
2. Listening
3. Changing the pyramid.
4. Developing your colleagues.
5. Coaching, not controlling.
6. Unleashing the energy and intelligence of others.
7. Foresight.

Read and learn; this guy lives it. Good for PacRim!

The Paradoxical Commandments (by Kent Keith)

1. People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

2. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

3. If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

4. The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

5. Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

6. The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

7. People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

8. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

9. People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

10. Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway


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