Servant Leadership Stripped Down

There are so many "models" for servant leadership that, frankly, I fear we may be creating confusion. It's time for a simple Servant Leadership strip down.

Leadership Stripped Down

There are so many “models” for servant leadership that I fear we may be creating confusion. For example, there is the Spears model of 10 attributes, the Frick and Sipe model of 7 pillars and of course, there is the “father” of servant leadership – Robert Greenleaf. Furthermore, there are countless religious references and philosophers that date back to 2000 BC. We need to simplify. We need a short, basic description that gets to the heart of the matter. It’s time for a Servant Leadership strip down – my proposed simplification of Servant Leadership.

At the heart of the matter, servant leadership is simply this: putting your stake holders before yourself and leading them through service to their needs. When in doubt if an action is servant led or not, simply ask this question: “How will this action impact all relevant stake holders?*” If it is not helping them, it is not serving them. If you’re not serving others, you’re not leading, you are self-serving.

And that, in my humble opinion, is servant leadership, stripped down to it’s most basic, fundamental principle. Still confused? Don’t worry, I’ll come up with yet another model to add to the complexity. Seriously though, for more information, you can review the Servant Leadership overview on this site.

* Yes, I realize this is similar to Greenleaf’s question that begins, “”The best test and difficult to administer, is…” I’m not trying to take credit for the idea – just supporting a simplification.


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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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