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The servant leader must constantly ask: How can I use myself to serve best? (Greenleaf, 1977)




  1. The only leadership theory to include morality and ethical behavior.
  2. Creates a positive work environment that fosters development of followers as individuals.
  3. 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).


  1. The theory name contradicts the stereotypical view of what defines a leader.
  2. Although the theory is 40+ years old, research is fairly new and unfinished.
  3. Moralistic overtones detract from credibility because it opposes scientific processes.
  4. 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:

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:

Modern Servant Leader (2015). Fortune’s Best Companies to Work For With Servant Leadership.  Retrieved from:

Modern Servant Leader (2015).  Servant Leadership Company List.  Retrieved from:

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

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.


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  1. Positive work environments are places we can appreciate.  Good info and layout with your page.  We all need to look toward the servant leadership model.

    1. I agree Susan, I think servant leadership is an excellent way to lead. Tony Robbins utube video is spot on when it comes to our perception of this style of leadership.