The Power of Servant-Leadership

Robert Greenleaf (Author) | Larry Spears (Author) | Peter Vaill (Author)

Publication date: 09/24/2002

Bestseller over 30,000+ copies sold

The Power of Servant-Leadership
Based on the seminal work of Robert K. Greenleaf, a former AT&T executive who coined the term almost thirty years ago, servant-leadership emphasizes an emerging approach to leadership—one which puts serving others, including employees, customers, and community, first.

The Power of Servant Leadership is a collection of eight of Greenleaf's most compelling essays on servant-leadership. These essays, published together in one volume for the first time, contain many of Greenleaf's best insights into the nature and practice of servant-leadership and show his continual refinement of the servant-as-leader concept. In addition, several of the essays focus on the related issues of spirit, commitment to vision, and wholeness.

During the last decade, we have witnessed an unparalleled explosion of interest in the practice of "servant-leadership," as today's business leaders search for a new leadership model for the 21st century. Based on the seminal work of Robert K. Greenleaf, a former AT& T executive who coined the term almost thirty years ago, servant-leadership emphasizes an emerging approach to leadership--one which puts serving others, including employees, customers, and community, first. In fact, Greenleaf's work, including his bestselling Servant-Leadership, has become increasingly popular since his death in 1990 and continues to inspire a growing movement of people and organizations concerned with issues of leadership, management, service, and spirit.

The Power of Servant-Leadership is a collection of nine of Greenleaf's most compelling essays on servant-leadership. These essays, published together in one volume for the first time, contain many of Greenleaf's best insights into the nature and practice of servant-leadership and show his continual refinement of the servant-as-leader concept. In addition, several of the essays focus on the related issues of spirit, commitment to vision, and wholeness.

The Power of Servant-Leadership also features a foreword by Peter Vaill, author of Learning as a Way of Being, and Managing as a Performing Art; and an Afterword by Jim Shannon, editor of The Corporate Contributions Handbook and retired president of the General Mills Foundation.

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Overview

Based on the seminal work of Robert K. Greenleaf, a former AT&T executive who coined the term almost thirty years ago, servant-leadership emphasizes an emerging approach to leadership—one which puts serving others, including employees, customers, and community, first.

The Power of Servant Leadership is a collection of eight of Greenleaf's most compelling essays on servant-leadership. These essays, published together in one volume for the first time, contain many of Greenleaf's best insights into the nature and practice of servant-leadership and show his continual refinement of the servant-as-leader concept. In addition, several of the essays focus on the related issues of spirit, commitment to vision, and wholeness.

During the last decade, we have witnessed an unparalleled explosion of interest in the practice of "servant-leadership," as today's business leaders search for a new leadership model for the 21st century. Based on the seminal work of Robert K. Greenleaf, a former AT& T executive who coined the term almost thirty years ago, servant-leadership emphasizes an emerging approach to leadership--one which puts serving others, including employees, customers, and community, first. In fact, Greenleaf's work, including his bestselling Servant-Leadership, has become increasingly popular since his death in 1990 and continues to inspire a growing movement of people and organizations concerned with issues of leadership, management, service, and spirit.

The Power of Servant-Leadership is a collection of nine of Greenleaf's most compelling essays on servant-leadership. These essays, published together in one volume for the first time, contain many of Greenleaf's best insights into the nature and practice of servant-leadership and show his continual refinement of the servant-as-leader concept. In addition, several of the essays focus on the related issues of spirit, commitment to vision, and wholeness.

The Power of Servant-Leadership also features a foreword by Peter Vaill, author of Learning as a Way of Being, and Managing as a Performing Art; and an Afterword by Jim Shannon, editor of The Corporate Contributions Handbook and retired president of the General Mills Foundation.

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Meet the Authors


Visit Author Page - Robert Greenleaf

Robert K. Greenleaf (1904 - 1990) was director of management research at AT&T. He held a joint appointment as visiting lecturer of the MIT Sloan School of Management and at the Harvard Business School. As a lifelong student of organization, he distilled his observations in a series of essays, books, and videotapes on the theme of The Servant as Leader, to stimulate thought and action for building a better, more caring society. He is the author of the bestselling classic Servant-Leadership , as well as the newly published The Power of Servant-Leadership.



Visit Author Page - Larry Spears

Larry C. Spears is President of The Spears Center for Servant-Leadership and serves as Servant-Leadership Scholar for Gonzaga University.  He is also Senior Editor of the International Journal of Servant-Leadership.  From 1990-2007, he served as President & CEO of the Robert K. Greenleaf Center. He previously served as executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Philosophy Consortium, and on the staffs of the Great Lakes Colleges Associationφs Philadelphia Center, and Friends Journal, a Quaker magazine. He is the editor and co-editor of fourteen books, including Insights on Leadership, On Becoming a Servant-Leader, Conversations on Servant-Leadership, and The Power of Servant-Leadership, a collection of essays by Robert K. Greenleaf.



Visit Author Page - Peter Vaill

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Table of Contents

About the Author
Foreword by Peter B. Vaill
Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction by Larry C. Spears
1. Servant: Retrospect and Prospects
2. Education and Maturity
3. The Leadership Crisis
4. Have You a Dream Deferred?
5. The Servant as Religious Leader
6. Seminary as Servant
7. My Debt to E. B. White
8. Old Age: The Ultimate Test of Spirit
Afterword by James P. Shannon
References and Permissions
Greenleaf Bibliography
Index
About the Editor and The Greenleaf Center

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Excerpt

The Power of Servant-Leadership

1

Servant:

Retrospect and Prospect

INTRODUCTION

I believe that caring for persons, the more able and the less able serving each other, is what makes a good society. Most caring was once person to person. Now much of it is mediated through institutions—often large, powerful, impersonal; not always competent; sometimes corrupt. If a better society is to be built, one more just and more caring and providing opportunity for people to grow, the most effective and economical way while supportive of the social order, is to raise the performance as servant of as many institutions as possible by new voluntary regenerative forces initiated within them by committed individuals: servants.

Such servants may never predominate or even be numerous; but their influence may form a leaven that makes possible a reasonably civilized society.

Out of the perspective that emerges from my long concern for institutions, I have come to believe that a serious lack of vision is a malady of almost epidemic proportions among the whole gamut of institutions that I know quite intimately—churches, schools, businesses, philanthropies. And that needed vision is not likely to be supplied by the administrative leadership of those places. Administrators, important and necessary as they are, tend to be short-range in their thinking and deficient in a sense of history—limitations that preclude their producing visions. If there is to be a constant infusion of vision that all viable institutions need, whatever their missions, the most likely source of those visions is their trustees who are involved enough to know, yet detached enough from managerial concern, that their imaginations are relatively unimpaired. Trustees are most effective when they are led by an able and farseeing chairperson—by a quality of leadership that is rare in our society today. These extraordinary chairpersons are not necessarily “big” people. The most effective trustee chair I have ever seen in action (and I have seen quite a few) was a “little” person in the world of affairs.

The above paragraph offers a view of the crucial role of trustee leadership that is not widely shared today by the populace at large, or accepted as a personal goal by many current chairpersons, and welcomed by even fewer contemporary chief executives as a role independent of theirs. With so little acceptance of the idea, one may ask, why advocate it? The response to that question requires two “ifs.” If one accepts that our institution-bound society serves well enough and no basic change in how our institutions are led is called for, then there is no reason to advocate this radical idea. But if one sees too many of our institutions as seriously deficient in their service to society (as I do) and believes (as I do) that that deficiency could be corrected over time, then something rather fundamental has to change. And the most reasonable and manageable change is to begin, gradually, to raise the effectiveness of trustee leadership until trustees are influential enough and farseeing enough to infuse new visions of greatness, one institution at a time, into as many of our institutions as possible. That powerful new trustee influence is not likely to be achieved until strong visionary leaders emerge to chair their efforts.

Beginning in 1970, I started to write on the theme of servant. These have been interesting years because responses have brought involvement in some depth with persons and institutions that share my concern. In this process, others have contributed much to my understanding of what may be required for our society to become more serving—to make a substantial move toward a quality of the common life that is reasonable and possible with available resources, human and material.

To such as I who did not write for publication until age 65, this understanding has come rather late in life. In summing it up now, I would like to share some reflections. Then I will speculate on the prospects, as I see them, for the servant motive in the future. But, first, a note about where I have been.

ORGANIZATION—HOW THINGS GET DONE

The major focus of my adult life may best be described as a student of organization, how things get done—particularly in large institutions. Fortuitous advice from a wise college professor helped shape this interest and led me, upon graduation, to find my way into the largest business organization in the world, American Telephone and Telegraph Company. Early on, I became a student of the history of what seemed to me to be an extraordinary institution. I managed to carve out a career in which I could be both involved and within watching distance of its top structure, and yet maintain sufficient detachment so that I could be reflective about what was going on. My tenure embraced the expansion of the 1920s, the Depression, World War II, and the growth years of the 1950s and 1960s. I never carried heavy executive responsibility and was spared the debilitating effects of such a role which seem almost inevitable, given conventional organizational structures.

In the latter part of my career, I held the position of Director of Management Research. With the help of a professional staff, and within a broad charter, I could both study and advise regarding the management and leadership of this huge institution—over 1 million employees—immersed as it is in sophisticated technology, elaborate human organization, and regulated public service. I was concerned with its values, with its history and myth, and, intimately, with its top leadership. I learned the hard way about the profound influence that history, and the myths of institutions that have a considerable history, have on values, goals, and leadership. And I was painfully aware of the cost in these terms of any insensitivity to history and myth—especially among the top officers. In any institutional setting, one really cannot understand one’s involvement in it now without a clear sense of the course of events that form that institution’s past, out of which grows the mythology that surrounds the record of those events. History and myth, in my view, need each other in order to illuminate the present.

This experience at AT&T gave me a good perspective and the impetus, in my retirement years that began in 1964, to venture into close working relationships with a wide range of institutions: universities (especially in the turbulent 1960s), foundations (as trustee, consultant, and staff member), churches (local, regional, and national), and related church institutions, professional associations, healthcare, and businesses—in the United States, in Europe, and in the third world.

This post-retirement experience, following 38 years with AT&T, has been enriching and stimulating; but one facet of it, in particular, prompted me to begin to write and to pull together a thread of thinking that has emerged around the servant theme.

The servant theme evolved out of close association with several colleges and universities during their disturbed period in the 1960s. This was a searing experience, to be intimately involved with students, faculty, administrators, and trustees at a time when some of these venerable institutions literally crumbled—when the hoops came off the barrel.

My first servant essay, “The Servant as Leader,” was prompted by my concern for student attitudes which then—and now, although the manifestations are different—seemed low in hope. One cannot be hopeful, it seems to me, unless one accepts and believes that one can live productively in the world as it is—striving, violent, unjust, as well as beautiful, caring, and supportive. I hold that hope, thus defined, is absolutely essential to both sanity and wholeness of life.

Partly in search for a structural basis for hope, partly out of awareness that our vast complex of institutions—particularly colleges and universities in the late sixties—seemed so fragile and inadequate, two further essays were written: “The Institution as Servant” and “Trustees as Servants.” The three essays were then collected in a book with some related writings and published in 1977 under the title Servant Leadership. Another projected essay, “The Servant as a Person,” turned out to be a book and was published in 1979 with the title Teacher as Servant: A Parable [published by The Greenleaf Center].

Out of the struggle to write these things, while contending with the modest ferment they stirred, came the belief that, as a world society, we have not yet come to grips with the institutional revolution that came hard on the heels of the industrial revolution, and that we confront a worldwide crisis of institutional leadership. How can we ordinary mortals lead governments, businesses, churches, hospitals, schools, philanthropies, communities—yes, even families—to become more serving in this turbulent world? And what does it mean to serve? I prefer not to define serve explicitly at this time. Rather, I would let the meaning it has for me evolve as one reads through this essay.

How can an institution become more serving? I see no other way than that the people who inhabit it serve better and work together toward synergy—the whole becoming greater than the sum of its parts.

I believe that the transforming movement that raises the serving quality of any institution, large or small, begins with the initiative of one individual person—no matter how large the institution or how substantial the movement. If one accepts, as I do, the principle of synergy, one has difficulty with the idea that only small is beautiful. The potential for beauty (largely unrealized to be sure) is much greater in large institutions—because of the phenomenon of synergy. Because we are now dominated by large institutions, how to make big also beautiful is a major challenge for us.

How to achieve community under the shelter of bigness may be the essence of this challenge because so much of caring depends upon knowing and interacting with persons in the intimacy of propinquity. The stimulus and support that some individuals need to be open to inspiration and imaginative insight often come from the nurture of groups. There may not be a “group mind” (inspiration and imaginative insight may be gifts only to individuals), but there is clearly a climate favorable to creativity by individuals that the group, as community, can provide. Achieving many small-scale communities, under the shelter that is best given by bigness, may be the secret of synergy in large institutions.

THE IDEA OF SERVANT

The idea of “servant” is deep in our Judeo-Christian heritage. The concordance to the Standard Revised Version of the Bible lists over 1300 references to servant (including serve and service). Yet, after all of these millennia, there is ample evidence that ours is a low-caring society when judged by what is reasonable and possible with the resources at hand. There are many notable servants among us, but they sometimes seem to be losing ground to the neutral or nonserving people. It is argued that the outlook for our civilization at this moment is not promising, probably because not enough of us care enough for our fellow humans.

I am personally hopeful for the future because knowledge is available to do two things that we are not now doing, things that are well within our means to do and that would give caring people great joy to do, things that would infuse more of the servant quality into our society. (1) We know how to mature the servant motive as a durable thing in many who arrive in their teens with servanthood latent in them—and this, I believe, is quite a large number. This is what my book Teacher as Servant is about. (2) We know how to transform institutions so that they will be substantially more serving to all who are touched by them. A chapter in Teacher as Servant deals with such a transformation. But formidable obstacles stand in the way of using this knowledge, obstacles that I will call “mind-sets.”

THE PROBLEM OF MIND-SETS

Mind-sets that seem to restrain otherwise good, able people from using the two bits of knowledge mentioned above are often tough and unyielding. Whether obstacles like these can be sufficiently reduced before the deterioration of this civilization has become irreversible is open to question. For the older ones among us who are “in charge,” nothing short of a “peak” experience, like religious conversion or psychoanalysis or an overpowering new vision, seems to have much chance of converting a confirmed nonservant into an affirmative servant. But for some, those few older ones who have a glimmer of the servant disposition now, it is worth their making the effort to try to stem the tide of deterioration. Life can be more whole for those who try, regardless of the outcome.

Civilizations have risen and fallen before. If ours does not make it, perhaps when the archeologists of some future civilization dig around among the remains of this one they may find traces of the effort to build a more caring society, bits of experience that may give useful cues to future people. It is a reasonable prospect that, in the civilization that succeeds ours—whether it evolves from ours in a constructive way or whether it is reconstructed from the ruins after long dark ages—those future people will be faced with the same two problems that confront us now: (1) how to produce as many servants as they can from those who, at maturity, have the potential for it; and (2) how to elicit optimal service from such group endeavors (institutions) as emerge. And, unless some unforeseeable transmutations in human nature occur along the way, those future people may be impeded by the same unwillingness to use what they know that marks our times. Knowledge may be power, but not without the willingness, and the release from inhibiting mind-sets, to use that knowledge.

Over a century ago, when the then-stagnant Danish culture was reconstructed as a result of the work of the Folk High School, the motto of that effort was The Spirit is Power. A chapter in the essay “The Servant as Leader” tells the story of a remarkable social transformation that followed when the spirit of the Danish young people was aroused so that they sought to find a way out of their dilemma, a stagnant culture, by building a new social order.

Worth noting about this 19th-century Danish experience is that Bishop Grundtvig, the prophetic visionary who gave leadership to the Folk High School movement, did not offer a model for others to follow, nor did he himself found or direct such a school. He gave the vision, the dream, and he passionately and persuasively advocated that dream for over 50 years of his long life. The indigenous leaders among the peasants of Denmark responded to that vision and built the schools—with no model to guide them. They knew how to do it! Grundtvig gave the prophetic vision that inspired them to act on what they knew.

VISION FOR OUR TIMES: WHERE IS IT?

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” This language (Proverbs 29:18) from the King James Version of the Bible stays with me even though modern translators make something else of that passage.

What Grundtvig gave to the indigenous leaders of the common people of Denmark in the 19th century was a compelling vision that they should do something that they knew how to do: they could raise the spirit of young people so that they would build a new society—and they did. Without that vision, 19th-century Denmark was on the way to perishing.

Our restless young people in the 1960s wanted to build a new society too. But their elders who could have helped prepare them for that task just “spun their wheels.” As a consequence of this neglect, a few of those young people simply settled for tearing up the place. And, in the absence of new visionary leadership to inspire effort to prepare our young people to build constructively, some of them may tear up the place again! Do not be surprised if they do just that. The provocation is ample. We simply are not giving the maturing help to young people that is well within our means to do. Instead, we are acting on the principle that knowledge, not the spirit, is power. Knowledge is but a tool. The spirit is of the essence.

Perhaps the older people who could help them do not do what they know how to do because, as in the 1960s, they are not inspired by a vision that lifts their sights to act on what they know. No such vision is being given in our times. And the paralysis of action that restrains us in preparing young people to live productively in the 21st century is still with us. We may be courting disaster by our neglect.

This is an interesting thesis (as said earlier): (1) We know how to increase the proportion of young people who, at maturity, are disposed to be servants; and (2) we know how to transform contemporary institutions so that they will be substantially more serving to all who are touched by them. What is needed, this thesis holds, is a vision that will lift the sights of those who know and release their will to act constructively. This vision might be prompted by conscience and self-generated out of a conscious search, or it may be without known cause, or it might be forcefully communicated by a strong leader-type person (as Grundtvig did in 19th-century Denmark).

This leader might present a vision that has a benign result, as Grundtvig did; or he or she might be a leader like Adolph Hitler, who brought a major disaster; or the vision might be given by an Elvis Presley who can release the inhibiting constraints and incite a frenzy of action that has no seeming value-laden consequence, good or bad.

The late Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel had given a lecture on the Old Testament Prophets to an undergraduate audience. In the question period a student asked, “Rabbi Heschel, you spoke of false prophets and true prophets. How does one tell the difference?”

The good rabbi drew himself into the stern stance of the prophet of old and answered in measured tones, “There—is—no—way!” and looked intently at his questioner for an embarrassing moment. Then his face broke into a gentle smile, and he said, “My friend, if there were a ‘way,’ if we had a gauge that we could slip over the head of the prophet and say with certainty that he is or is not a true prophet, there would be no human dilemma and life would have no meaning.” Then, returning to his stern Old Testament stance he said emphatically, “But it is terribly important that we know the difference.”

Thus, one who is inspired by a vision must know the difference between an action that points toward a benign result, or simply aimless activity. I believe it is possible to prepare most of the emerging adults to know the difference. This is the first step in increasing the proportion of young people who are disposed to be servants. My book, Teacher as Servant, describes how a teacher on his own and without the support of either colleagues or university, can prepare young people to know the difference. I will comment later on one other opportunity within colleges and universities. Neither approach costs any money!

WHAT DO WE KNOW—OR DON’T WANT TO KNOW?

I have said that (1) we know how to increase the proportion of young people who, at maturity, are disposed to be servants, and (2) we know how to transform institutions so that they will be substantially more serving to all who are touched by them. But it is not knowledge that is codified and systematized and bearing the appropriate establishment imprimatur. It is knowledge like that which the leaders among the Danish peasants had when they were inspired to build schools which would kindle the spirit of their young people. They had always known how to do that, but until Bishop Grundtvig gave them the vision, they were unable, or lacked the will, to act on what they knew.

There is nothing mystical about the available knowledge to do the two things (as suggested above) that need to be done in our times to raise the servant quality of our society. To my knowledge, clear and complete models do not exist, but there are fragments of experience here and there that can readily be assembled to give a workable basis for moving to solidify that experience—to know! Let me give examples from four widely differing contemporary institutions in which, it seems to me, able, honest people lack the vision to act on what they know—or could easily know—and seem not to want to know! They seem to have mind-sets that block them.

Business

A certain important industrial field is occupied by half a dozen large companies and many small and medium sized ones. It is a field that is subject to quite wide cyclical economic fluctuations and in which disruptions by labor disputes are common. One of the larger companies (not the largest) stands in conspicuous contrast to the other large ones on three counts: no matter what happens to the economic fortunes of the others, this firm, up to now, has always made money; they have never had a strike or work stoppage; their product is generally recognized as superior. (What makes their product superior will be commented on later.)

Let us call this company X. A close observer of this industry recently asked the head of one of the other large companies in this field this simple question: “What do you folks learn from company X?” The response was a hand gesture of dismissal and the brusque comment, “I don’t want to talk about it!”

One can speculate about why, in a highly competitive field, the head of one large company would brush off a suggestion that he might learn something from a more successful competitor. But what distinguishes company X from its competitors is not in the dimensions that usually separate companies, such as superior technology, more astute marketing strategy, better financial base, etc. Company X is not too different from its competitors in dimensions like these. What separates company X from the rest is unconventional thinking about its “dream”—what this business wants to be, how its priorities are set, and how it organizes to serve. It has a radically different philosophy and self-image. According to the conventional business wisdom, company X ought not to succeed at all. Conspicuously less successful competitors seem to say, “The ideas that company X holds ought not to work, therefore we will learn nothing from them.” They “don’t want to talk about it.”

University

In the field of higher education, there is another consequence of a lack of vision that cannot be as clearly identified as in the above business example. For many years, I have tried to stir an interest in universities in making a more determined effort to develop the servant-leadership potential that exists among their students. When new money is produced to support such an effort, a pass will be made at doing it. But when the money stops, the effort stops. It does not take root. Here and there the occasional professor, on his own, without the support of his university, and sometimes with the opposition of his colleagues, has taken an interest in this aspect of student growth—with conspicuous success.

In contrast, a student with athletic potential will find elaborate coaching resources available to develop this talent—even in the poorest and feeblest of institutions. But the young potential servant-leader will find that the position of the best and strongest university is that the development of leadership potential is something that just happens, and nothing explicit is to be done about it in the crucial undergraduate years. I wrote an article about this in an educational journal stating that the only way I see for work in the undergraduate years to help alleviate the leadership crisis we seem now to be in is to find and encourage the rare professor who will take it on—unrecognized and uncompensated, and perhaps denigrated by his colleagues. A university president responded to my article with this concurring comment:

I am coming more and more to agree with your opinion that it is almost impossible to mount anything like an organized program in developing leadership in our university students. Reluctantly, I am reaching your conclusion that the best and only hope of success will be an effort on the part of a few dedicated individuals who will take that cross upon themselves. If this is truly the case, then we need to try to discover who and where they are and give them all the assistance we can.

When John W. Gardner wrote his sharp criticism of universities for administering what he called the antileadership vaccine (his parting message when he left the presidency of Carnegie Corporation for a career in politics in 1964), the response from academe seemed to be, “We don’t want to talk about it!”

Health Profession

In the medical profession, there is a widely held position against accepting nutrition as an important factor in health. The average doctor knows that the human body is a chemical-psychic organism. But in treating illness or in advice regarding health building, there is not much concern for nutrition.

The Hill Foundation in St. Paul, Minnesota, which has a long record of generous giving to medical education, recently made a grant to establish a program in nutrition in a new medical school. The foundation’s annual report for 1973 commented on this grant as follows:

It is a true paradox: Americans are often overweight and undernourished. We are wasteful of our food assets and unwise in our dietary patterns; meanwhile, much of the rest of the world struggles to assure its people an adequate food supply. There is an immediate need for more basic research in nutrition; more communication on ways to plan and control food production, processing, presentation and preparation; and for more public education on sound nutritional practices. But the fact is that there are too few well-trained people to perform this task. …

An important aspect of the nutrition problem is related to the medical school curriculum. Few medical schools have major departments devoted to the field of nutrition research and education. Generally the young doctor gets a briefing on aspects of nutrition as they relate to specific diseases such as diabetes, allergies or coronary problems. Most of the emphasis, however, is on the remedial care of patients, with little attention devoted to the maintenance of health or the prevention of illness. … The same weaknesses exist in the training of such paramedical personnel as nurses and dietitians. … The Foundation believes Mayo Medical School ideally suited to develop and implement a broad nutrition education program because it is a new institution (italics ours), and hence is still flexible in its approach to medical training.

What this says to me is that the mind-set among doctors on nutrition is such that only a new medical school will offer a chance to use fully the available nutritional knowledge as an important factor in health building. The medical establishment would seem to say, as the head of the business said when asked what he learned from his more successful but unconventional competitor, “We don’t want to talk about it!”

Church Leader

My interpretation of a bit of 19th-century history is that when Karl Marx sat in the British Museum composing the doctrines that would shape so much of the 20th-century world, he was filling a void that was left by the failure of the churches of his day to deal adequately with the consequences of the industrial revolution. If the 19th-century churches (or church leaders) had taken the trouble to suggest a design for the new society that the industrial revolution made imperative, and if they had advocated it persuasively as a new vision, Marx might still have written his tracts; but they would not have found the field relatively unoccupied.

Recently, I met with a group of church leaders, professionals, who were convened for three days on the subject of “The Churchman as Leader.” I listened for a day as they discussed their leadership opportunities and problems as they saw them. Then, in commenting on what I had heard, I noted three words that are sometimes used interchangeably but have quite different connotations: manage (from manus—hand) suggesting control; administer (from administrare—to serve) suggesting to care for; and lead, of uncertain origin, but commonly used to mean “going out ahead to show the way.” Manage and administer, along with the ceremonial aspects of office, are the maintenance functions—they help keep the institution running smoothly—as it is. Important as maintenance is in the current performance of any institution, it does not assure adaptation to serve a changing society. That assurance can come only from leading—venturing creatively. Having made this distinction in the meaning of terms as they are commonly used, I commented that, as I observed their discussion, these churchmen were talking mostly about maintenance, not leading.

In most institutions, churches included, managing and administering, the maintenance functions, are delegated and resources are allocated in order that those to whom these functions are assigned can carry on. Those who manage and administer (maintain) may also leadgo out ahead to show the way. But leadership is not delegated; it is assumed. If there are sanctions to compel or induce compliance, the process would not qualify as leadership. The only test of leadership is that somebody follows—voluntarily.

At this point, I was asked by the church leaders, “If you do not see us as leading, in your terms, what could persons in positions like ours do in order to lead?”

I repeated my credo, as stated in the beginning of this essay, which concludes with “… If a better society is to be built, one more just and caring and providing opportunity for people to grow, the most open course, the most effective and economical way, while supportive of the social order, is to raise the performance as servant of as many institutions as possible by new voluntary regenerative forces initiated within them by committed individuals—servants.” Then I said:

“What church leaders can do to really lead in our times is to use their influence to bring into being a contemporary theology of institutions that will underwrite the commitment of church members within our many institutions and support them as they become new regenerative forces: to the end that their particular institution, in which they have some power of influence, will become more serving—and continue to grow in its capacity to serve.

“The leadership of the 19th-century churches did not accept the challenge to suggest a new design for postindustrial revolution society, and they left a void to be filled by a concerned and articulate atheist. The leaders of late-20th-century churches are not accepting the challenge of an institution-bound society (which Marx did not provide for in his doctrines, and, as a consequence, Marxist societies today have the same problem in getting their institutions to serve as we have). The opportunity that church leaders have today is to take the initiative to see that an adequate theology of institutions evolves so the churches have a firm basis for preparing their members to become regenerative servants in the institutions with which they are involved. Leadership is initiating—going out ahead to show the way.”

There was not much response to this suggestion in the meeting of church leaders. When we concluded, I noted this paucity of response and said that I would write to them about it when I got home. I later sent to those present a memorandum entitled “The Need for a Theology of Institutions,” in which I suggested a detailed procedure that a church leader might follow in producing this new theology. Only 2 of the 16 present at the conference acknowledged the receipt of the memo, and they were noncommittal. A supplementary memorandum six months later got the same response.

I would conclude that these church leaders—all responsible, able, good people—took the same position as the head of the business did when asked what he learned from his much more successful (if unconventional) competitor: “We don’t want to talk about it!”

When 19th-century church leaders were confronted with the radical impact of the industrial revolution, if some audacious consultant had suggested that a new theology was needed to deal with this problem, the response of church leaders of that day might have been the same—“we don’t want to talk about it.”

My reflection on these last ten years leads me to conclude that vision, without which we perish, is required to open us to willingness to use what we know and to work to extract hard reality from a dream. In the absence of a powerful liberating vision, church leaders, like others in responsible roles, “don’t want to talk about it.” Why, over such a long span of history, has the production of vision been so difficult to do? Why are these liberating visions so rare?

WHY ARE LIBERATING VISIONS SO RARE?

It seems to me important to accept that the mind-sets that are so frustrating to all reformers, those who are urging others to use what they know, actually serve a useful purpose. What if every person and every institution was “open” in the sense of being free of all inhibiting mind-sets that block action on what we know? Every question and every situation would be faced as if nothing like it had happened before. This would be a reformer’s dream; but the world would be in chaos. Few of us can survive without a good deal of dogma that prompts reflexive actions. We would not be able to act quickly in emergencies, and moral choices that require prompt action would paralyze us. Most of us get along as well as we do by a good deal of “what if?” anticipatory thinking that pre-sets responses to common situations. If we were all completely “open,” much of our traditional wisdom might be lost, as might “manners” that enable us to interact spontaneously in appropriate ways with fellow humans.

Liberating visions are rare because ours is partly a traditional society—but only partly. It is also an evolving society about which Cardinal Newman is quoted as saying, “To live is to change; to live well is to have changed often.” The mixture of traditional and changing is an important aspect of the human dilemma.

Therefore, in answer to the question, “Why are liberating visions so rare?” one must say that they are rare because a stable society requires that a powerful liberating vision must be difficult to deliver, and that the test for the benign character of such a vision shall be rigorous. Yet to have none, or not enough such visions, is to seal our fate. We cannot run back to be a wholly traditional society, comforting as it may be to contemplate it. There must be change—sometimes great change.

Moods and spirit of people vary. There are moments when people are more open to charismatic vision than others. Some times seem “plastic”; others seem “hard.” We but dimly understand the forces that open and close people to liberating visions.

The word prudence comes to mind. We should try to change with a minimum of threat of damage to stability—as embodied in the four kinds of mind-sets I have described. If stability is significantly lowered or lost, no matter how noble the end sought, the cost in human suffering may be inordinate. When an imprudent effort toward change, one in which the liberating vision is not sufficiently compelling and benign in intent, may make it more difficult for a later prudent effort to succeed, reformers take note: in the end, most people choose order—even if it is delivered to them by brutal nonservants. The ultimate choice of order is one of the most predictable mind-sets because it is a first condition of a civilized society.

If the writer in Proverbs 29:18 is correctly quoted in saying “Where there is no vision, the people perish,” there is remarkable consistency between the common dilemmas in ancient times and in ours. The four examples of firm mind-sets in the fields of business, education, health, and church suggest that there has been failure to give sufficiently powerful liberating visions. This kind of deprivation has been the common lot of humankind from the earliest times. And because of that, the threat of perishing is always with us.

SUMMONING AND ARTICULATING A VISION

So far I have given only half an answer to the question, Why are liberating visions so rare?—because it is so difficult to give them. The other half is: because so few of those who have the gift for summoning a vision, and the power to articulate it persuasively, have either the urge or the courage or the will to try! And it takes all three. We in America may be in a transition period between an era of “growth” and one of “restraint” and liberating visions may have a hollow sound. This is discouraging to visionaries!

One of the requirements of a caring, serving society, in both favorable and discouraging times, is that it provides in its structures a place for visionaries and surrounds those in that place with the expectation that they will produce those liberating visions of which they are capable. A new view of a structure of the institutions that serve us may be in order—a view that embraces both internal structure as well as the relationship between institutions and how they influence one another.

When “The Servant as Leader” was published in 1970, I had this to say about prophetic vision:

I now embrace the theory of prophecy which holds that prophetic voices of great clarity, and with a quality of insight equal to that of any age, are speaking cogently all of the time. Men and women of a stature equal to the greatest of the past are with us now addressing the problems of the day and pointing to a better way and to a personeity better able to live fully and serenely in these times.

The variable that marks some periods as barren and some as rich in prophetic vision may be in the interest, the level of seeking, and the responsiveness of the hearers. The variable may not be in the presence or absence or the relative quality and force of prophetic voices. The prophet grows in stature as people respond to his message. If his or her early attempts are ignored or spurned, the talent may wither away.

It is seekers, then, who make the prophet; and the initiative of any of us in searching for and responding to the voice of a contemporary prophet may mark the turning point in her or his growth and service.

I came by this point of view from reading the history of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), and I concluded that George Fox, the powerful 17th-century voice in England that gave this Society its remarkable vision, probably would not have been heard had there not been in existence in England for 100 years prior a group known as seekers. This was a small band of people whose common bond was that they were listening for prophetic vision. They were held together by a religious concern, but they knew that it lacked articulation in a contemporary formulation that would make of them a vital social and religious force in their day. And as they heard and responded to George Fox, they became for a short time a great movement that had a remarkable impact on English institutions, notably a new business ethic and a pervasive social concern that influenced the western world and carried forward to 18th-century America, where it made of the Quakers the first religious group to formally condemn slavery and forbid slaveholding among its members—100 years before the Civil War.

But this movement very quickly crystallized into a church, as too many of its members ceased to be seekers. Instead of seeing, being open to new prophecy, they “had it,” tested and tried—what churches have always done. What they had was, and remains, good. But the Quakers were no longer on the growing edge.

The servant-leader may be not so much the prophetic visionary (that is a rare gift) as the convener, sustainer, discerning guide for seekers who wish to remain open to prophetic visions. The maintenance functions within all sorts of institutions may not require leaders of any sort, but, seekers, of which every institution should have some, must have servant-leaders. But from where, in our vast complex of institutions, will liberating visions come? I have a suggestion.

A STRUCTURE OF INSTITUTIONS THAT ENCOURAGES LIBERATING VISIONS

In search for a structure that encourages liberating visions, the institutions that make up our society might be arranged in a three-level hierarchy.

In the base level are what may be called “operating” institutions: governments, businesses, hospitals, schools, labor unions, professional associations, social agencies, philanthropies, families, communities.

In the second level are churches and universities, because of their concern for values and for continuity of the culture, and because of their capacity for nurturing the serving quality in both individuals and institutions.

At the third level are seminaries (theological and nontheological) that are sustaining resources for churches, and foundations that could perform a similar service for colleges and universities. Both foundations and seminaries are suggested because they have sufficient detachment and freedom from daily pressures to maintain a reflective overview of the whole society, and because they have greater latitude than most institutions to be what they want to be and to do what they think they should. They have the unusual opportunity to harbor and encourage prophetic voices that give vision and hope. Unfortunately, in our times, little prophetic vision seems to come from either seminaries or foundations.

Further, foundations and seminaries have the opportunity to become the source of nurturing that is mediated through churches and universities to individuals and operating institutions. Thus a major preoccupation of seminaries and foundations might become the nurture of institutions—institutions that in turn serve people. And it is hoped that, in time, all institutions will come to acknowledge their insufficiency and their need for constant nurture from a source that has the necessary detachment and freedom from daily pressures. I suggest that this source could be foundations and seminaries.

The utility in such an idea of a hierarchy of institutions is that when there is faltering in any institutions, as there is likely to be in the best of them from time to time, a fair question to ask is, wherein has there been a lack of caring concern for this institution for the level next above?

This assumption leaves the question, To whom do seminaries and foundations turn when they need caring concern? Since these two stand at the top of the hierarchy, there are no resource institutions that serve them. Therefore, seminaries and foundations need a quality and depth of trustee care that would not be possible for all institutions. These two kinds of institutions need the most dedicated and discerning trustees of all. And these trustees have the greatest of all opportunities for constructive service to the society of the future. The opportunities are great, but the challenge to astuteness of trustee leadership is also great—because most seminaries and foundations, as they now stand, have well-set patterns that do not favor their occupying the role I have described as possible, and natural, for them as level-three institutions—at the top of the hierarchy.

SEMINARIES

As seminaries have evolved, they have tended to take on the values and mind-sets of universities. A few of them are schools within university structures. But most are independent institutions with their own trustees, even where they are affiliated with religious denominations.

If seminaries take on the full scope I will suggest, they will not be at all like universities. To be sure, they have a curriculum of courses and they grant degrees. But this is incidental to their major function: to harbor and nurture prophetic voices that give vision and hope, and to serve as a sustaining support for churches. These are not primary functions of a university, and the university tradition may not be useful as a model for seminaries.

I have a gnawing suspicion that the strongest role, a viable structural model for a seminary, has not yet evolved. It is the opportunity for seminary trustees, under the leadership of their chairperson, to help the seminary get into its strongest role. It is not the trustee mission to design the seminary, authoritatively. Rather, trustees have the opportunity to lead a process out of which the design for the seminary of the 21st century may evolve. All of the several constituencies of each seminary should be full participants in the evolution of that design. And it should be evolution—over time, and never ending. The seminary should rest firm, at all times, in its contemporary mission, while the process of transcending that mission is carried forward simultaneously.

As trustees undertake to lead their seminary toward its full stature as a serving (level-three) institution, one of their concerns should be for the seminary to make, out of its own experience, a contribution to an evolving theology of institutions—a theology that gives a critical, contemporary view of the purpose and program of both seminary and church. This concern, consistently manifest, will help clarify the goals of the seminary. It will also help prepare the seminary to support the churches in their ministry, both to individuals and to the full range of “operating” institutions that churches have the opportunity to influence, to the end that these institutions will be more serving of all persons whose lives they touch.

Seminaries differ widely in their doctrinal positions; but most share the desire to bring about conditions of life that will favor all persons reaching their full stature as religious beings (in the root meaning of the word religion). It is regarding this common goal that new vision is needed.

FOUNDATIONS

Foundations, as institutions with funds to dispense for legally approved purposes, are a relatively recent addition to our extensive gallery of institutions. There is considerable disagreement as to what the function of foundations should be, and there are persistent public pressures to restrict their autonomy. There is some sentiment that foundations should not exist at all, or only for a limited term of years.

Foundations are unique in that they are free of “market” pressures. All other institutions have constituencies that must be satisfied if they are to continue to exist. Foundations have only to obey the law—which is stricter than it once was, and may get more so.

While foundations still have some latitude to choose what they will do, it is suggested that some of them elect to become, in part at least, support institutions for universities and colleges—not just to give them money, although they may continue to do some of that. Could not some foundations become for universities and colleges what seminaries now are (or could be) for churches? This will not come about quickly or easily, but foundation trustees might assume the kind of leadership suggested above for seminary trustees: leadership to a process out of which the design for a foundation role for the 21st century will evolve.

Large, sophisticated businesses sometimes set aside staffs whose role is to think about the firm as an institution and give intellectual guidance to its development. Universities tend to rely on committees of faculty to render this kind of service to the university itself; and it is not enough. American railroads are the classic example of large businesses that did not set people aside to think about the business they were in. Everybody was busy running the railroad day to day. And few railroads survived this neglect as viable businesses. There is some question that universities will survive, unharmed, from their own self-neglect; and they have been badly scarred in recent years.

It probably will be more difficult for a foundation to become effective in this support role for universities than for seminaries to do it for churches. This is partly because of the great size and complexity of some universities as well as the scarcity of persons who could (or would) staff a foundation that undertakes this difficult task. As with seminaries, the prime concern is trustees. Trustees of a foundation that uses its resources for this important purpose will need to be unusually caring and dedicated and persevere over a long period. They will accept the fact that their foundation must earn the kind of role suggested here.

Some universities and colleges face a drop in enrollment and are experiencing financial stringencies. They have difficulty thinking of any problem they now have as other than something that more money would solve. As a somewhat detached observer, I suspect that universities and colleges are suffering—even today—more for want of ideas, and for vision to liberate them to use ideas, than for want of money. If their governing ideas were better suited to their needs and opportunities in these times, the want of money might not be such a problem. But, the university tradition being what it is, it is unlikely that they have the power to be sufficiently self-regenerating. They, like the churches, need the sustained caring support that only a most able foundation staff is likely to give.

It is humbling for any institution to accept that it is not self-regenerating and that it should welcome conceptual leadership from another institution like a foundation—one that has the resources, human and material, to give that help, and that has managed to assemble a few unusually able trustees whose exceptionality give the foundation self-regenerating power. Most universities, like most people and institutions, could use a good measure of humility. Humility is one of the distinguishing traits of the true servant—as willing humbly to accept service as to give it.

SELF-REGENERATING INSTITUTIONS

Continuous regeneration is essential for viability of persons and institutions and society as a whole. A prudent use of human resources is to concentrate the ablest trustees, who will always be few in number, in those institutions that are best positioned to be self-regenerating and thereby to gain the strength to give clear and compelling regenerating vision to others.

If seminaries and foundations can be accepted as being appropriately placed in the hierarchy of institutions to assume this guiding role (as I believe they are), then a concerted effort should be made to provide these two kinds of institutions with trustees who will persevere with determination to assure sustained self-regeneration in themselves in order to give strong support to churches (by seminaries) and colleges and universities (by foundations) with the hope that, between the influence of churches and universities, “operating” institutions will be helped to a sustained high level of caring and serving.

INSTITUTES OF CHAIRING

One of the practical steps that foundations and seminaries might take, collectively or separately, is the conduct of institutes for those who chair trustees. They could do this, first, for themselves to prepare their own chairpersons to give the leadership that will help assure the quality of trustee oversight that self-regenerating institutions require. The institutes could then extend the availability of this chairing preparation to universities and colleges and to churches and church-related institutions so that, between them, they could provide this service for those who chair the trustees of all operating institutions that have trustees or directors. Such Institutes of Chairing would be a permanent thing: to give initial and continuing preparation for the chair leadership; to serve as a medium of exchange between those who undertake this role; and to provide a consulting resource for chairpersons who want help on specific problems.

This is a large order. But if the voluntary character of our complex society is to be preserved and enhanced, a major investment in strengthening and maintaining the trustee role of all institutions that have governing boards seems imperative. This is one of those invaluable social supports that we know how to provide and that we can afford to supply. What is needed, first, is a liberating vision that will make it a feasible thing to do. Where better might we look for that liberating vision than among seminaries and foundations? If just one in each category will take it on and advocate that vision persuasively and with spirit, they may infect the rest. Visions, both good and bad, can be contagious. An Institute of Chairing could be one of the good ones.

I suggest that a prime concern of all seminaries and foundations could be to become self-regenerating institutions—with their own able and caring trustees. They could stand as models for the others.

SERVANT LEADERSHIP—BY PERSUASION

In my personal credo stated earlier I said, “If a better society is to be built, one more just and more caring and providing opportunity for people to grow, the most effective and economical way, while supportive of the social order, is to raise the performance as servant of as many institutions as possible by new voluntary regenerative forces initiated within them by committed individuals—servants.”

So far I have not found it helpful to define servant and serving in other terms than the consequences of the serving on the one being served or on others who may be affected by the action. In Teacher as Servant, I describe a semifictional servant in some detail.

In “The Servant as Leader,” the definition was: “Do those being served grow as persons: do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And what is the effect on the least privileged in society; will she or he benefit, or, at least, not be further deprived?” I would now add one further stipulation: “No one will knowingly be hurt by the action, directly or indirectly.”

Thus the servant would reject the “utilitarian” position, which would accept a very large gain in, say, justice at the cost of a small but real hurt to some. The servant would reject the nonviolent tactic for societal change, however noble the intent, if, as a consequence, some who are disposed to violence are likely to resort to it, or some may be threatened or coerced. (I would fault Mohandas Gandhi on these grounds. Great leader and tremendous person that he was, I do not find his tactic an appropriate model for the servant. John Woolman, as described in “The Servant as Leader” is, for me, such a model.)

The servant would reject the rapid accomplishment of any desirable social goal by coercion in favor of the slower process of persuasion—even if no identifiable person was hurt by the coercion.

To some determined reformers, such a set of beliefs would lead to paralysis of action. The servant (in my view) is generally a “gradualist.” And, while granting that, in an imperfect world, because we have not yet learned how to do better, coercion by governments and some other institutions will be needed to restrain some destructive actions and to provide some services best rendered authoritatively, the servant will stand as the advocate of persuasion in human affairs to the largest extent possible.

This view is supported by a belief about the nature of humankind, a belief that leads to a view of persuasion as the critical skill of servant leadership. Such a leader is one who ventures and takes the risks of going out ahead to show the way and whom others follow, voluntarily, because they are persuaded that the leader’s path is the right one—for them, probably better than they could devise for themselves.

One is persuaded, I believe, on arrival at a feeling of rightness about a belief or action through one’s own intuitive sense—checked, perhaps, by others’ intuitive judgment, but, in the end, one relies on one’s own intuitive sense. One takes that intuitive step, from the closest approximation to certainty one can reach by conscious logic (sometimes not very close), to that state in which one may say with conviction, “This is where I stand!” The act of persuasion will help order the logic and favor the intuitive step. And this takes time! The one being persuaded must take that intuitive step alone, untrammeled by coercion or manipulative stratagems. Both leader and follower respect the integrity and allow the autonomy of the other; and each encourages the other to find her or his own intuitive confirmation of the rightness of the belief or action.

To the servant (as I view that person), persuasion, thus defined, stands in sharp contrast to coercion (the use, or threat of use, of covert or overt sanctions or penalties, the exploitation of weaknesses or sentiments, or any application of pressure). Persuasion also stands in sharp contrast to manipulation (guiding people into beliefs or actions that they do not fully understand).

If one accepts such definitions, has the servant become limited to a passive role and yielded the carrying of the tougher burdens to those with fewer scruples? No, I do not believe so; not if the preparation of servants can begin when they are young. There are some old and valuable burden carriers around who are much too coercive and manipulative; and they might lose their usefulness if they attempted too radical change. It may be better to tolerate their ways as long as they are useful so long as they do not hurt others.

I realize that in adding to the definition of servant the admonition, “no one will knowingly be hurt,” some people who might otherwise think of themselves as servants (as I have defined it) will reject that identification. The problem is that some do not believe they can carry the leadership roles they now have without causing some hurt, or that necessary social changes can be made without some being hurt.

In an imperfect world, some will continue to be hurt, as they always have been. I know that, in the course of my life, I have caused some hurt. But, as my concern for servanthood has evolved, the scars from these incidents are more prominent in my memory and self-questioning is sharper: Could I have been more aware, more patient. more gentle, more forgiving, more skillful? The intent of the servant, as I see that person now, is that, as a result of any action she or he initiates, no one will knowingly be hurt. And if someone is hurt, there is a scar that henceforth will endure to be reckoned with. Hurting people, only a few, is not accepted as a legitimate cost

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Endorsements

“The Power of Servant-Leadership is an extraordinary collection of Robert Greenleaf's finest and most mature essays on servant-leadership, spirit, and wholeness. Today there is a growing worldwide movement of people and organizations— deeply committed to servant-leadership—who have been inspired by Greenleaf's earlier writings. Beautifully enriched by Peter Vaill's Foreword, Jim Shannon's Afterword, and Larry Spears's Introduction, The Power of Servant-Leadership is a wonderful and unexpected gift to the world. It is destined to become a classic.”
—Max DePree, author of Leading Without Power and Leadership is an Art

“No one in the past 30 years has had a more profound impact on thinking about leadership than Robert Greenleaf. If we sought an objective measure of the quality of leadership available to society, there would be none better than the number of people reading and studying Robert Greenleaf's writings.”
—Peter M. Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline

“It is wonderful to have access to Greenleaf's visionary thought in The Power of Servant-Leadership. Every time I read him, I am both humbled and awed. Nearly thirty years ago he wrote clearly and forcefully about the issues that still challenge us today. It is time to act on his visions, and this volume is a great help for stepping into the future that Greenleaf describes so eloquently.”
—Margaret J. Wheatley, author of Leadership and the New Science, co-author of A Simpler Way

“The most difficult steps, Greenleaf has written, that any developing servant-leader must take, is to begin the personal journey toward wholeness and self-discovery. This new collection of essays, written with exceptional depth and grace, offer Robert Greenleaf's most powerful insights about this journey. Anyone interested in the most subtle yet most important aspects of the emerging leadership paradigm must read this book.”
—Joseph Jaworski, author of Synchronicity

“In my area of work, I've found that the concept of servant- leadership is crucial to advance governing boards beyond their current primitive state. The Power of Servant-Leadership assembles Greenleaf's groundbreaking observations in an accessible and concentrated form for today's busy readers.”
—John Carver, author of Boards That Make a Difference

“The writings of Robert Greenleaf grow as the reader matures in leadership and understanding of the cultural transformation taking place around us. The essays in The Power of Servant- Leadership take on new meaning with each reading and are well worth continuing reflection. We first met Greenleaf in 1978. Each year since, we have grown to discover fresh dimensions within his writing and thought. Like special mentors, these penetrating essays will continue to guide you like the wise words alive in your memory when needed.”
—Ann McGee-Cooper and Duane Trammell, co-authors of You Don't Have To Go Home From Work Exhausted!

“Bob Greenleaf was the first author on leadership to emphasize that human institutions mean far more than results or success or profits. He believed that we exist in order to cooperate with others to achieve purposes beyond ourselves, for some greater collective good. These splendidly thoughtful essays elaborate on that theme. I've read each of them over the past 20 or so years, and it's about time they've been published in one place. A blessing for all of us.”
—Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor, Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California, author of Organizing Genius

“We are greatly encouraged to know that the servant-leadership movement will have access to these inspiring and important writings of Robert Greenleaf. These are reflective and burnished works. For many who have had their lives affected by Greenleaf, they will be a promise fulfilled. For those who will be introduced to servant-leadership through these essays, the experience will be a welcoming introduction.”
—Dr. John C. Burkhardt, Program Director, Leadership and Higher Education, W.K. Kellogg Foundation

“Robert Greenleaf's unique voice speaks to what, in the end, matters most in the life of a leader—how others have grown and prospered. Though conceived and composed years ago, Greenleaf is profoundly modern, and with the mature wisdom of experience he guides us to the essence of our current search for meaning and purpose. The Power of Servant-Leadership is an extraordinary collection of a master's work, and Greenleaf's voice will resonate in your soul long after you have read the last word.”
—Jim Kouzes, Chairman and CEO, TPG/Learning Systems, co-author of The Leadership Challenge and Credibility

“I am honored to add my voice to those in praise of The Power of Servant-Leadership . Even though it has been many years since Robert Greenleaf first gave the world his compelling insights, there has never been a time when we needed servant-leadership more than we need it now. Who knows how long business will be suffering the destructive residue of a generation of gunslinger superstar CEOs who, in their excessively narrow definition of “stockholder value,” have created workplaces of fear and anxiety? The only salvation of the workplace as a source of personal meaning and purpose is to develop and reinforce manager-leaders who will embrace the values of Robert Greenleaf. I hope that this book will be a powerful tool in that effort.”
—James A. Autry, author, Love & Profit and Confessions of an Accidental Businessman

“Management thought has always been captivated by innovation, always looking for a quick fix in five or seven lessons. The overconfidence such neophilia generates is already beginning to produce a reaction—the friendly critics of capitalism from George Soros to Charles Handy signal growing dissatisfaction with superficial formulas. Robert Greenleaf is not about formulas; Greenleaf is about wisdom. Wisdom is a rare and precious thing, perhaps too precious for best-seller lists, too demanding for people in search of easy answers. For people willing to think about organizational life and culture, Greenleaf is indispensable.”
—Robert L. Payton, author, Philanthropy: Voluntary Action for the Public Good

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