The Defining Of Servant Leadership Theology Religion Essay Example
The Defining Of Servant Leadership Theology Religion Essay Example

The Defining Of Servant Leadership Theology Religion Essay Example

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  • Pages: 16 (4208 words)
  • Published: November 6, 2017
  • Type: Case Study
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Servant leadership has sparked numerous arguments in recent years regarding its relevance in the modern world.

The previous association of servant leadership mainly relates to religious matters, particularly within the Christian kingdom. The implementation of this theory in the non-religious world is specifically connected to the contributions of Robert K. Greenleaf and it receives significant endorsement and acceptance from numerous experts in the management and leadership field. It is also important to acknowledge that a portion of the population expresses criticism towards the theory in certain perspectives. Consequently, these concerns emphasize the significance of defining servant leadership and the dynamics surrounding it.

Servant leadership promotes success in an organizational setting by prioritizing the strengths and needs of co-workers and other members. A servant leader serves the resources of the organization with humility and concern, including financial aspects, ph


ysical items, and human beings. This approach also applies to leadership in Christianity, where a leader is expected to be humble and considerate of others' situations.

Specifying Servant-Leadership

The term "servant-leadership" is controversial, but the originator used its true nature to advance the concepts of servant-leadership.

The author explores the idea that leaders and followers can be better understood through a descriptive term. The relationship between leaders and followers is seen as contradictory, but the author suggests that Greenleaf encourages us to reconsider our understanding of leadership. Leading and service are seen as inseparable once one fully comprehends their nature. Within Christianity, a good leader is one who leads virtuously and seeks to emulate Christ. In essence, they aim to serve their followers in a way that combines leadership and service effectively.

Servant-leadership involves the leader taking on the role of a servan

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when connecting with their followers. It is believed that effective leadership comes from the willingness to help others, rather than seeking power and control. This aspect of excellence in a leader also applies to the non-religious world. It is commonly believed that the interest and desire to serve others can only be effective in the spiritual realm. A servant leader is typically motivated by the desire to empower and inspire excellence in their followers, which ultimately makes them a great leader.

This means that individuals are made to understand that the work is designed for them just as they are designed for the work. In this case, Christian organizations are reminded about the nature of the relationship between society, people, and the organization. When a leader creates an empowering environment that utilizes the strengths, abilities, and involvement of their followers, the workforce becomes motivated and success becomes easily achievable.


In recent decades, there has been an increase in the acceptance of servant leadership within Christian denominations. It is quite difficult to find a Christian denomination that does not embrace the concepts of servant leadership as documented by Greenleaf.

Transformational and magnetic signifiers of leading have been overshadowed by the popularity of the servant leading theoretical model. The nature of leading in theological circles is often associated with uniqueness. Theologists quickly point out the differences between spiritual leading and common characteristics of leading in the secular world. These characteristics have led supporters of servant leading to appreciate the properties formulated by its founder in this country. For example, Christians understand that God often chooses leaders with little bravery, education, and experience, as seen in the cases of Gideon, the

apostles, and David. This highlights the unexpected nature of leadership qualities in spiritual contexts and explains why the properties of servant leading are easily justified.

The qualities that distinguish servant leadership from other models include listening, empathy, consciousness, healing, community building, and conceptualization. A true servant leader is committed to the growth of their followers, stewardship, foresight, and persuasion.


- In addition to being a crucial aspect of communication, a genuine servant leader addresses issues by carefully listening before making any decisions.


Individuals experience spiritual and physical growth when they are valued for who they are. Therefore, a true servant leader puts themselves in the shoes of others and never dismisses their suggestions and feelings.


The concept of awareness emphasizes that when the issue of consciousness is ignored, opportunities are easily missed and other priorities are neglected.


In order to bring integrity to oneself and others, one must find ways to instill it within their own bodies.


This theory suggests that individuals should learn to understand consensus through creative and non-coercive methods. Servant leaders should refrain from using their power to control others, instead utilizing their personal strengths and powers for the same purpose.


This principle emphasizes that individuals should seek solutions for future problems rather than solely focusing on present issues.

People are also expected to have skills that accurately determine or predict what the future holds for any group.

People in this case are expected to perform their responsibilities for the benefit of the society apart from just focusing

on the predicament of humans in that particular group.

Constructing the community-
As stated earlier, Greenleaf reminds us that the community is the only avenue through which human aspects can be materialized. The rise of many institutions in the contemporary world has enhanced the disappearance of community; therefore, people should reconstruct this important factor.

Committedness to the growth of people-
Greenleaf advocates for the need to empower and elevate people higher than they could ever imagine.

The text below is a faithful representation of servant-leadership. It exemplifies the principles of promoting and satisfying others, which are behaviors often associated with servant-leaders. These behaviors are rooted in deeply-held beliefs and values, and it is important to note the crucial role that equity and unity play in this process. Leadership in this model is dependent on values that align with those found in numerous spiritual traditions throughout history.

It is also important to note that many spiritual accounts support servant leadership issues, while others classify the model as ineffective in the field of spiritual leadership. Another prevalent value in servant leadership is referred to as a leader's motivation. Motivation is ideally effective in distinguishing the servant leadership model from other leadership theories. It stems from core beliefs held by the individual, reminding them that followers also deserve the same level of appreciation they receive.

In essence, a leader is equal to his followers in every aspect. Christianity serves as a prime example, as Jesus humbly washed the feet of his disciples. This demonstrates the importance for leaders to balance authority and humility. This does not imply that these leaders lack authority or exhibit weakness. The personal values demonstrated by a leader play a

crucial role in shaping the culture embraced by their followers. It is these cultures that ultimately unite beliefs, assumptions, and values.

A leader should demonstrate discernible values through actions that gradually instill these values in their followers over time. The values exhibited by Christ in the Christian faith are believed to be influential in initiating changes and important points of coherence.

Values in Servant Leadership

The significance of values in this model has raised questions about whether theoretical values and their practical applications promote the desired success in a Christian group or organization. Ongoing research focuses on the belief system demonstrated by leaders who practice this model, aiming to highlight its presumed effectiveness. In simpler terms, Greenleaf's ideologies are exploring the world of leadership and reflect previous beliefs in religious matters.

Typically, the path to becoming a leader in this realm involves prioritizing the need to serve others first. This is followed by the desire to lead a group with humility as the most important characteristic. This means that the motivation of a servant leader is focused on serving in all aspects, with other matters taking secondary importance. Various spiritual leaders, such as Buddhists, Christians, and others, utilize this model to address issues in society. They initially gain love, trust, and appreciation from others before eventually transitioning into leadership roles. Notable examples of such leaders include Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa.


The theoretical account is, however, susceptible to criticism like any other prominent theory in both theological and secular realms. To begin with, it is challenging to adhere to Greenleaf's instructions due to numerous flaws in his theory. From a Christian perspective, it is argued that Greenleaf's beliefs

merely reflect the actions exhibited by Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, it is evident that many actions observed by Christ in the New Testament contradict the theological teachings of servant-leadership.

A new school of thought has emerged, aiming to understand the nature of Jesus. These individuals believe that Jesus displayed extreme humility and practiced servant leadership. However, it is important to note that Jesus exhibited humility primarily towards God and not always in his interactions with people. He spoke with great power and confidence, particularly when confronting the Pharisees and high priests. He did not demonstrate all the dynamics discussed in the theory, indicating some flaws in the model. Greenleaf's theology of servant leadership can be categorized as a contemporary blend of applied psychology, existential philosophy, and/or eastern mysticism.

The presence of recognition for the theory in many spiritual establishments has been influenced by several key issues. Many individuals claim to have witnessed servant leading in various spiritual establishments, but the true definition always eluded their attention. Although servant leading is a widely discussed topic, its core principles remain unclear to many. This highlights the challenge of adhering to the rules of servant leading in both spiritual and secular settings.

In simpler terms, the theory includes various properties, values, and considerations that cannot be easily embraced by an average person. It is believed that servant leadership is justified by the complex nature displayed in religious and spiritual matters. In other words, the theory is more easily applied to religious matters compared to secular settings. The challenge arises when trying to distinguish between spirituality and religion. Even after differentiating between the two, the theory still has the potential to contradict the

religious beliefs of individual followers. It is also important to question the practical relevance of the theory in contemporary issues that impact both the ordinary person and an individual's spiritual perspective.

The modern universe is marked by various aspects that rely on an individual's effort and values. Capitalism and its requirements exemplify how contemporary secular concerns can influence the dynamics of servant leadership dictated by a particular faith. In capitalism, each individual is compelled to prioritize their own survival, rendering servant leadership potentially irrelevant. Greenleaf's concept of servant leadership also overlooks the fact that individuals have different capabilities and skills, and we cannot all operate at the same level. Competence levels vary across different settings, and this crucial fact should not be disregarded.

Simply put, servant leadership disregards the issue of accountability and its importance in any setting. Many researchers argue that servant leadership may be effective, but it lacks empirical data to support its effectiveness. In addition to the absence of empirical data, it is also evident that the model lacks a concise and systematic definition; thus, more empirical research is necessary to validate its components. Furthermore, it is seen as a theory that has remained confined to philosophical grounds for an extended period. Some researchers have endeavored to develop more rational models of the theory, yet further research is still required.

Additionally, it may be necessary to posit that servant leadership fundamentally reduces religious facets of faith into ethical considerations. Servant leadership, in a real sense, seems to be relevant solely in terms of justifying the aspect of humanization across any given setting.

Theory Support

Many researchers argue that servant leadership is in a better position to address

many issues that may weaken other leadership models. However, it is important to note that proponents of the model in both religious and secular circles rarely speak about its effectiveness on a level that can be termed as effective.

The justification for servant leadership often revolves around the individual, organizational, and social demands connected to religious and moral beliefs. As previously mentioned, servant leadership is based on the teachings and life of Jesus, making it easily applicable in a spiritual or religious context. The compatibility between church leadership and theoretical aspects of servant leadership is evident in much of the literature on the topic. This theory is primarily driven by the recognition of shortcomings inherent in every human being. Numerous misinterpretations can be observed in the relationship between leaders and subordinates, especially when one holds a high position of authority.

These weaknesses have the potential to undermine leadership qualities in Christian communities where individuals follow the teachings of other leaders. The weaknesses associated with servant leadership include the likelihood of errors in judgment by an individual, self-centeredness and arrogance on the part of a leader, and the possibility of developing unhealthy low-level relationships. Subordinate relationships often become sour, especially in conventional hierarchical systems. In an effort to strengthen the case for servant leadership, proponents quickly point out examples of leadership failures that resulted from selfish leadership models.

The prevalence of illustrations in modern society is wide-ranging and can be seen within various organizations, including both religious and secular ones. However, servant leadership is a way for leaders to address these existing flaws in the most effective manner. An example of how a servant leader avoids these flaws is

by fostering a sense of consensus and empowering their followers in the particular setting. In essence, a servant leader believes that each follower possesses something exceptional, which means they are no more important than those they lead. Furthermore, relying on position power has been associated with numerous mistakes across many organizations, which is why leaders should derive their motivation and influence from values instead. Servant leadership is also highly regarded for its "holistic" approach towards followers in both secular and spiritual contexts.

This means that servant leadership caters to both religious and economic demands that the follower has. Advocates of the theoretical model on a secular land are also quick to point out that the world is full of uncertainty and instability in many organizations. Scandals and layoffs are common occurrences, causing pressures that affect the relationship between a leader and their followers. These pressures and confusion lead to heightened stress in relationships that advocate for traditional hierarchical models. The most highly recommended solution for such scenarios lies in psychological stability and predictability, as well as moral and ethical boundaries. Servant leadership is the only avenue through which these issues can be addressed.

Research workers also argue that religious attitudes have been growing among individuals in both secular and spiritual environments. This indicates a clear need for empowering followers and nurturing their individuality. Servant leadership is well-suited to meet these needs, as leaders in these environments are guided by their beliefs, values, and actions. In fact, many organizations are now filled with religious followers, highlighting the need for a spiritually strong leader.

Servant leadership is the only way for a spiritual and inspirational leader to be nurtured,

and this means that modern-day organizational environments are set to benefit. Servant leadership emerged as a theory in the 1960s but has gained recognition in recent times, with many believing that it is ideal for all situations. It is evident that servant leadership is a suitable alternative to the traditional hierarchical models of the past, as organizations are transitioning from larger structures to smaller ones to meet the demands of a competitive business environment. Therefore, an effective option is required.

Servant leadership is a form of leadership that focuses on empowering followers, promoting teamwork, and inspiring others, making it an ideal option. This theory is often compared to transformational leadership because they share many similarities. Transformational leadership was originally introduced by James Burns in 1978 and later improved upon by Bernard Bass in 1985. It has gained popularity and is considered effective in terms of implementing changes, similar to the servant leadership model.

The reason for this may be that transformational leadership enhances the leadership qualities and human values possessed by followers. The two leadership theoretical models, therefore, fall under the magnetic class as described by Max Weber. They are called magnetic leadership theoretical models because they are based on the qualities and behavior exhibited by a leader. However, it is important to note that servant leadership and transformational leadership models have several differences.

Both transformational and servant leadership models focus on an individual's contribution, but they differ in terms of motivation, objectives, culture, and dynamics. In a transformational model, leaders are motivated by the organization's goals and objectives. In contrast, leaders in the servant leadership model are motivated by a strong desire to empower their followers. However,

it is worth noting that the servant leadership model is also used in the transformational leadership model to achieve organizational goals.

The primary goal of a given establishment in servant leadership is the authorization and development of followers' personalities. In other words, the ultimate aim in any servant-leadership scenario is the self-realization of the followers. This means that transformational leadership focuses mainly on production for the people, whereas servant leadership prioritizes the people over production. Consequently, the implications of these approaches extend to other countries, including how success is measured within a particular organization. It is evident that in servant leadership, success is measured in terms of happiness and satisfaction demonstrated by the followers, whereas transformational leadership measures achievements in terms of realized organizational objectives. Servant leadership theorists argue that the measurement of success used in the transformational model is an indirect but significant consequence resulting from satisfied followers.

In summary, both the transformational and servant leadership theories have an impact on the culture and environment of an organization. The transformational model focuses on performance and inspiration, leading to a culture of empowerment. Meanwhile, the servant leadership model emphasizes shared leadership and fosters a spiritual culture, creating a strong relationship between leaders and followers. Overall, the servant leadership model results in a positive followership culture.

This civilization is synonymous with spiritualism, indicating why Christians should incorporate it into both economic and religious personal businesses. The compatibility of the two models, however, differs greatly. This means that each model works well in certain environments rather than being compatible with all environments. Non-profit organizations, churches, and community service ventures are best suited for the servant leadership approach. On the other

hand, the transformational leadership model is most effective in competitive corporate environments that require constant development and innovation. Furthermore, the servant leadership model can also be successful in public service establishments where profit is not the main goal.

Typical examples of successful theory application have been connected to non-profit organizations such as schools.

Robert K. Greenleaf-Origins of the Theoretical Model

Robert K. Greenleaf was born in 1904 in Terre Haute. He grew up in a family that valued community service, strong ethics, and morality.

The involvement of his male parent, George K. Greenleaf, in community and economic affairs showcased this. George actively participated in local politics, served on various school boards, and also held a position at the city council. He progressed through different levels to ultimately become the head of the engineering school where he was employed.

From these indicants we see that Robert Greenleaf surely adopted some of his male parent's traits. These include blending with mean workers on the manner up. George showed that a good leader is one who serves foremost, and is besides preoccupied with authorising his followings. The leading qualities of Greenleaf became apparent back in 1922 when he became the president of his category at Wiley high school. He graduated from Minnesota's Carleton College in 1926 and subsequently discovered Quakerism at age 30. He besides worked at AT & A ; T and became the manager of the company in 1938.

During his time at the establishment, Greenleaf's responsibilities included identifying and nurturing potential leaders. He discovered that effective leaders are motivated by both personal ambition and a strong sense of teamwork. Additionally, they demonstrate admirable ethical qualities and show respect for others. After

retiring in 1964, Greenleaf founded the Robert K. Greenleaf Center to promote understanding of leadership dynamics. In his second career, he offered management consulting services and delivered lectures.

One of the clients of the consultancy house was the Ford foundation.


Greenleaf engaged with university students in the 1960's and, when inquiring about their studies, came across valuable information. It was during this time that he read Herman Hesse's Journey to the E, which sparked the idea of servant leadership. The story revolves around a group of individuals embarking on an extraordinary journey.

Leo, who is a retainer in the group, accompanies them and undertakes various responsibilities for them. In addition to fulfilling these humble duties, Leo also supports the group with his spirit and singing. Although he is seen as a retainer, his influential presence makes him a key figure throughout the entire journey. However, in the book, it is mentioned that everything goes smoothly until Leo suddenly vanishes.

The group decides to abandon the journey because they cannot continue without Leo. They make efforts to locate Leo and bring him back to the Order that funded their expedition. During this event, Greenleaf reveals that Leo is not only a member of the Order, but also its leader. This revelation clearly demonstrates how exceptional leaders prioritize serving others. Genuine leaders prioritize helping others before anything else, as it is their fundamental aspiration.

In 1970, he started writing about servant leadership, and his book was released. At first, 200 copies were printed, but the demand was so high that more copies were made. Since then, half a million copies have been sold and distributed worldwide. In 1974, he published two more

books, namely the Institution as Servant and Trustees as Servant.


The concept of servant leading has been widely applied in various domains of society. The Greenleaf Center, a non-profit organization, is responsible for educating individuals on the significance of servant leading. Although the organization has achieved significant success in promoting the benefits of servant leading, challenges still exist. These challenges primarily arise from the difficulty of evaluating a leader's effectiveness based on their internal values rather than external characteristics and values.

In summary, the effectiveness of servant leadership is reliant on the individuals embodying the role and their personal values. To alleviate any doubt or uncertainty, it is necessary to examine how this theory can be applied in real-life situations. The ITRC is an information technology think tank at a university, responsible for ensuring the institution stays updated with industry advancements. Additionally, the organization designs technological products for schools and private institutions.

The house recently received a grant from a local organization to create interactive platforms or booths for educating the public about an upcoming project. An individual with coding skills was assigned to lead this project, but he did not exhibit qualities of servant leadership. As a result, the development of the Kiosks and the happiness demonstrated by the team were the main outcomes. The coder was overly controlling despite having a creative and enthusiastic team. His expertise was applied in areas that did not align with his strengths and abilities. Similarly, he disregarded any suggestions from his team that did not align with his own desires.

The squad was eager and highly motivated, but the coder's attack was unsuitable. He used a hierarchical approach that

favors top-down leadership. After multiple failures, the coder was terminated and a new leader was brought in. Dave became the new leader and was determined to elevate the team to new heights. With his newly acquired skills from a management school, he also realized that servant leadership could be an effective method. He individually met with everyone and established a connection with each team member.

Afterwards, he made everyone feel free to express their opinions, and he invited suggestions from everyone on how to improve the house. Dave made sure that each person had the necessary resources and felt valued within the group. As a result, the team's morale increased, and they began to make decisions together. A few months later, the company started to see improvements in terms of customer satisfaction and the completion of projects.

The project was successful in the long run and this success was attributed to servant leadership. Dave observed his team members effectively addressing project issues and regarded it as his own success. He promoted servant leadership among his followers by serving others.


Servant leadership is considered a fascinating leadership theory that can be applied in both religious and non-religious settings. It aligns with the life of Christ, making it compatible with Christianity.

The term's definition is contradictory, as the two terms it represents are opposites. The model's significance is evident in its popularity and the evidence collected from existing organizations. It is important to acknowledge the model's weaknesses, which have been criticized. The model is often compared to the transformational model because of some similarities. However, the transformational model focuses on organizational outcomes, while the servant leadership model prioritizes follower happiness. Overall,

the servant leadership model is effective due to the level of support it receives.

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