The Leader–Boss? Servant? Partner?


I’m a servant leader,” declared Braylon.

“What does that mean to you?” I asked.

“It means that I put my people first.  I identify their needs. I want to help people grow, to reach their potential.”

“What do you do if there is a conflict between a member’s priority and the company’s mission?”

“I advocate strongly for my people.  I take care of them; they will take care of me.”

Robert Greenleaf coined the term “servant-leader” in the 1970’s.  Some, still today, invoke the concept to argue against what they see as top-down power.

Effective leaders utilize many servant leader concepts, for example:  listening to, empowering, and developing employees.  However, full-blown servant leadership may not sink employee efforts to a common mission.

Teams require members to bend some of their needs to achieve teamwork, as in, subordinate personal aspirations to team goals.  Effective leaders strive to make all better off by influencing, persuading, cajoling, and evening requiring employees to seek first the mission.

Perhaps it is better to think of leader-employee relations as a partnering, as in–we both have skin in the game and we both have a lot to gain, but it is my responsibility to ensure that we strive together in this journey.