When Servant Leadership Will Not Work

Yes, there are situations in which Servant Leadership will not work. Here are a few I can think of:

Woman Shoots Herself in the Foot1. Short Term Objectives Only: If you have no long-term objectives. For example, when all you want is short term goals and are willing to throw away your investment and lose your team after those immediate goals are achieved, then servant leadership may not work.

2. Singular Stakeholder Focus: If you only want to provide results for one stakeholder group, servant leadership may not work. For example, if you only want to drive fiscal returns for investors and don’t care what happens to employees, your community or the environment in the process, servant leadership may not work.

3. Career Over Organization: If your only motivation is your career and you have no interest in the success of the organization you serve, servant leadership may not work. For example, if you believe the company exists to serve you and not the other way around, another form of leadership may be better.

Without Servant Leadership, you may not be able to achieve any long-term objectives, your other stakeholders may abandon you and your career may suffer. Still, I supposed these are situations in which Servant Leadership will not work…


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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

4 thoughts on “When Servant Leadership Will Not Work”

  1. Kathleen Patterson

    Some good insights Ben. The motivation of the leader and the focus of the leader do indeed make a difference. All the best.

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