Servant-Leadership: the Starting Point

Just like tiny grains of sand carried by the wind make up a huge dune, the ever-increasing number of people and communities going in for servant-leadership are gathering in a vast army ready to fight for their intentions and convictions. The concept of servant-leadership continues to fan the revolutionary thought in the minds of working people living in different parts of the world. It is not uncommon for managers to regard hired workers as tools for gaining profit – a kind of attitude we have been witnessing since the beginning of the industrial age. However, things seem to have changed over the past few decades. This is pretty much about the concept of servant-leadership mentioned above.

The idea belongs to Robert K. Greenleaf (1904-1990) In his essay titled "The Servant as Leader", 1970, Greenleaf revealed a new approach to the concept, based on his personal fourty-year-long experience with education at AT&T, followed by another 25 years of serving as a senior consultant to a number of renowned and influential institutions, such as MIT, the R. K. Mellon Foundation, the American Foundation for Management Research, the Mead Corporation, Ohio University, etc.

He founded the Center for Applied Ethics in 1964. About two decades later, the center was named after the founder and became the Robert K. Greenleaf Center, today found in Indianapolis. Gradually, Greenleaf's theories on service and leadership won the attention of educators, workers, managers and representatives of different social layers interested in management and service issues and personal problems. It is due to these theories that traditional autocratic practices appear to be taking a backseat to more democratic ways of managing organizations and enterprises. Margaret Wheatley, Stephen Covey, Max DePree, Peter Senge, Ken Blanchard, and many other experts picked up the baton and did their utmost to keep the ball rolling. The idea has had a strong effect on many communities and societies around the globe.

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