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Servant Leadership

IronRoad practices servant leadership to improve the company, improve the lives of it's employees, and empower those employees to better serve you, our clients.  Through our actions and leadership, we hope to empower and inspire our clients to serve their co-workers, their clients, their families, and their community.  

We believe the measure of a leader is deemed by their ability to serve others.  This is at the center of our business.  True leadership emerges from those whose primary motivation is a deep desire to help others.  

Who coined the term "Servant Leadership" and how is it described?

Robert Greenleaf published an essay, The Servant as Leader, in 1970.

In that essay, he writes:

“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…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature."

“The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?"

A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid,” servant leadership is different. The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first, and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.

Robert Greenleaf recognized that organizations as well as individuals could be servant-leaders. Indeed, he had great faith that servant-leader organizations could change the world.  

IronRoad practices servant leadership because we believe that our servant-leader organization has the ability to impact the lives of you, our clients by first focusing on your health, well-being, and needs.

What is the definition of servant leadership as it applies to the business world?

One that seeks to involve others in decision making, one strongly based in ethical and caring behavior, and one that is attempting to enhance the personal growth of workers while improving the caring and quality of our many institutions.  

Servant leadership emphasizes increased service to others, a holistic approach to work, promoting a sense of community, and the sharing power in decision making.

What are the characteristics of servant leaders?

  1. Listening - Communication and decision-making skills need to be reinforced by a deep commitment to listening intently to others. "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry."
  2. Empathy - Assume good intentions of co-workers and colleagues, and accept and recognize them for their special and unique spirits.
  3. Healing - When a problem arises, don't focus on immediately fixing the problem, but finding wholeness.  "There is something subtle communicated to one who is being served and led if, implicit in the compact between servant leader and led, is the understanding that the search for wholeness is something they share."
  4. Awareness - Be aware of how your behavior is impacting others.
  5. Persuasion - Convince others, through passion, instead of coerce compliance.
  6. Conceptualization - Dream great dreams and stretch your dreams beyond day-to-day thinking.
  7. Foresight - Understand the lessons from past, realities of present, and likely consequences of a decision in the future.
  8. Stewardship - Hold something in trust for another.  
  9. Commitment to growth of people - Believe that people have an intrinsic value beyond their tangible contributions as a worker.  The servant leader is deeply committed to the growth of each and every individual within his or her organization.  The servant leader recognizes the tremendous responsibility to do everything in his or her power to nurture the personal and professional growth of employees and colleagues.
  10. Building community - All that is needed to rebuild community as a viable life form for large numbers of people is for enough servant leaders to show the way.
Servant leadership is a long term, transformation approach to life and work.  Please be patient with us while we continue to change and grow with servant leadership.  We hope to empower you and your company to install servant leadership within your institution so you, too, can impact the lives of others and the community. 

If you have questions on how to implement servant leadership into your company, please contact us!

Greenleaf, R.K. (1977/2002).  Servant-Leadership: A journey into the nature of legitimate power and greatness.  Mahweh, NJ: Paulist Press.

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