Theory: The leader desires to put followers needs first and act in partnership to support personal development of subordinates, which in turn creates a more positive and productive workplace (Pennsylvania State University, 2015; Northouse, 2015).
Description: Servant leaders need to understand themselves first, in order to service followers and aid in growth process. The cyclical idea is that the servant leader develops followers in a way that fosters the subordinate drive for service, so that the follower can eventually become a servant leader himself/herself. Example: a parent serves his/her child's needs so they grow up to be successful adults and can one day be a leader and/or raise children of their own ( Pennsylvania State University, 2015).
Ideally, servant leaders evoke societal and work environmental change (Northouse, 2015). In this theory, teamwork and productivity is elevated to meet organizational needs. (Pennsylvania State University, 2015).
Servant Leadership Companies
Several of the Companies from the Fortune 100 are utilizing servant leadership. Below is a list of some (Modern Servant Leader, 2015) :
- SAS (#1 on the list of Best Companies to Work For)
- Wegmans Food Market (3)
- Zappos.com (6)
- Nugget Market (8)
- Recreational Equipment (REI) (9)
- Container Store (21)
- Whole Foods Market (24)
- QuikTrip (34)
- Balfour Beatty Construction (40)
- TD Industries (45)
- Aflac (57)
- Marriott International (71)
- Nordstrom (74)
- Men’s Wearhouse (87)
- CH2M Hill (90)
- Darden Restaurants (97)
- Starbucks (98)
The servant leader must constantly ask: How can I use myself to serve best? (Greenleaf, 1977)
- The only leadership theory to include morality and ethical behavior.
- Creates a positive work environment that fosters development of followers as individuals.
- Research is recent and developing to define for who and when servant leadership is or is not the best type of approach.
(Pennsylvania State University, 2015; Northouse, 2015).
- The theory name contradicts the stereotypical view of what defines a leader.
- Although the theory is 40+ years old, research is fairly new and unfinished.
- Moralistic overtones detract from credibility because it opposes scientific processes.
- The 10 Servant-leader characteristics make the theory too similar to the Trait Approach.
(Pennsylvania State University, 2015; Northouse, 2015)
With the publication of Servant Leadership in 1977, a new paradigm of management entered the boardrooms and corporate offices of America. Robert K. Greenleaf, a retired AT&T executive proposed that service ought to be the distinguishing characteristic of leadership. Not only would it create better, stronger companies, he said, but business leaders themselves "would find greater joy in their lives if they raised the servant aspect of their leadership and built more serving institutions." (Spears, 2002).
Greenleaf developed his theory of servant leadership and lectured at MIT, Harvard Business School, Dartmouth College, and the University of Virginia. The Greenleaf Center for Servant-Leadership is located in Indianapolis.
Greenleaf states in his book on the question of,
Who is the servant leader?
The servant leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions. For such, it will be a later choice to serve- after leadership is established. The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types(Greenleaf, 1977).
Servant Leadership - Deutsch, M. (2010)
Servant Leadership - London Business Forum (n/d)
Powerful Servant Leader - Tony Robbins (n/d)
Deutsch, M. (2010). Servant Leadership. Retrieved from: www.uniqueleadership.com.
Greenleaf, R. K. (1977). Servant leadership: A journey into the nature of legitimate power and greatness. New York, NY: Paulist Press.
London Business Forum (n/d). Ken Blanchard – Servant Leadership. Retrieved from: www.londonbusinessforum.com.
Modern Servant Leader (2015). Fortune’s Best Companies to Work For With Servant Leadership. Retrieved from: http://modernservantleader.com/servant-leadership/fortunes-best-companies-to-work-for-with-servant-leadership/
Modern Servant Leader (2015). Servant Leadership Company List. Retrieved from: leadership-companies-list/
Northouse, P. G. (2015). Leadership: Theory and practice (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
Pennsylvania State University (2015). Unit 3: Lesson 11: Servant Leadership PSY-532. Retrieved from
Robbins, T. (n/a). Tony Robbins: Being a Powerful Leader = Being a Powerful Servant. Retrieved from: .
Servant Leader. (2014). Retrieved from
Servant Leader Picture. (2013). Retrieved from http://slu.edu/
Spears, L (2002) 25th Anniversary Edition Jacket Greenleaf, R. K. (1977). Servant leadership: A journey into the nature of legitimate power and greatness. New York, NY: Paulist Press.
Put Followers First
Help Followers to Succeed
Create Value for Community
(Pennsylvania State University, 2015)
10 Servant-Leader Characteristics:
Commitment to Growth
(Pennsylvania State University, 2015)
Companies Seeking Servant Leaders (Modern Servant Leader, 2015).
|501c Solutions||MAPCO Express|
|Accretive Solutions||Marriott International|
|ACT, Advocates for Community Transformation||Matrix Information Consulting|
|Agape Flights||Men's Wearhouse|
|Alpha Kappa Psi||ModCloth|
|American Medical Response||Nugget Market|
|Arrow Stage Lines||Oakwood Village|
|Astonish Results||Ochsner Health|
|ATI Career Training Center||Opportunity International|
|Atwood Associates, LLC||Organisations That Matter|
|Azusa Pacific University||Oschner Health System|
|Balfour Beatty Construction||Paragon Solutions|
|Banner Baywood Medical Center||Pi Beta Phi Fraternity|
|Bradley Group||PPC Partners, Inc.|
|C3 Consulting||Rally Software Development|
|CAP Carpet, Inc.||REI|
|Catholic Relief Services||SAS|
|Cengage Learning||Savage Companies|
|Centura Health||Schneider Corporation|
|CH2M Hill||Service Master|
|Common Ground||Sonrise Christian School|
|Container Store (The)||Southwest Airlines|
|Darden Restaurants (Red Lolbster, Olive Garden...)||Sowing Empowerment & Economic Development, Inc.|
|Datron World Communications||St. Joseph Regional Medical Center|
|Dawn Food Products||Starbucks|
|Delek US Holdings||SunDurance Energy|
|Evergreen Freedom Foundation||Synovus Financial|
|Flow Companies||TD Industries|
|Food For The Hungry||Toro Company|
|Gabriel Center||Trilogy Health Services|
|Green Dot Public Schools||U.S. Cellular|
|HCA||United States Air Force|
|Heartland Health||United States Army|
|HEMCO Gages||United States Marine Corps|
|Herman Miller||United States Navy|
|Herritage Community||Vanderbilt University|
|Hess Corporation||Viterbo University|
|Hill House Association||Wal-Mart Stores|
|Insperity Business Solutions||WD-40 Company|
|JTC Education||West Coast Consulting|
|Keller Williams Realty||Whole Foods|
|Koch Companies||Witt Kieffer|
|Landry's Bicycles||YUM Brands (KFC, Pizza Hut, Long John Silver's & more)|
|Louisiana Hospital Association||Zingerman's Community of Business|
|Luna Data Solutions, Inc.|