I’m Not Naive, We’re Just Cowards

Dear Opponent of Servant Leadership,

No, I’m not naive. In fact, it’s quite the opposite…

Naive Child in Suite with PencilYou Say I’m Naive

You think Servant Leadership doesn’t work “in the real world”.

I guess organizations practicing servant leadership like Southwest Airlines, Vanguard, REI, U.S. Cellular, Starbucks, Zappos, the U.S. Military and many, many more don’t operate in the “real world”.

As I exclaim the benefits of Servant Leadership, I see that look in your eye. I know what you think… “Oh, he’s just naive…”. I’m sorry, you’re wrong.

I’m Well Educated

The reality is most Servant Leadership advocates are extremely well educated on the topic of leadership. Put another way, most people who study leadership extensively ultimately proclaim the best solution is Servant Leadership or some variation of similar principles.

Without service to stakeholders as the primary goal of a leader, organizations fail. This, in essence, is what most leadership books boil down to. The alternative of selfish focus on individual careers is all-too-well documented in failures. Sustainable success demands Servant Leadership.


No, I’m not naive. We’re just cowards – both of us. Servant Leadership opponents and advocates who remain silent. We’re cowards because we know what is right, what is necessary to lead successfully in the long-term, but we fail to do it. We fail to stand up and resist toxic leadership when we see it. We fail to demand Servant Leadership because we don’t want other people to think we’re “naive”.

You’re well-educated friend in cowardice,

– Ben


Question: Do you think we’re naive or cowards?


Picture of Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner is the founder and principal of Modern Servant Leader and Radiant Forest, LLC. He has studied and promoted servant leadership awareness and adoption for over 20 years. He is the author of 2 leadership books and has 2 decades of corporate management and leadership experience. His corporate experience spans CIO, VP, Director, and many management roles at Fortune 500, INC 500, and Nonprofits. Ben’s education includes a B.S. in Management Science & Information Systems from Penn State University and an MBA from Lehigh University. Ben's Full Profile Here: About Ben Lichtenwalner

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