Why Servant Leadership is a Good Idea

He came to serve, not to be served (The Message). Christ is the model and very definition of servant leadership. Northhouse shares a number of criticisms of servant leadership including, “being a servant leader implies following and following is viewed as the opposite of leading” (2013, p. 235). Few would agree that Christ was a follower as suggested by this viewpoint. These are the same few people that would tend to confuse meekness with weakness.

A recent New York Times article, Golden Parachutes Are Still Very Much in Style indicates that the “golden parachute” practice continues today albeit using  some more creative approaches due to a number of high profile “golden parachute” cases in the recent past. In 2007, William McGuire, M. D., the former CEO of UnitedHealth Group reached a settlement to payback $468 million as a result of a stock options backdating case. Without admission of wrongdoing, McGuire and the company mislead investors and the employees about the company’s performance. As a former employee of UnitedHealth Group, I had firsthand knowledge of the resulting finacial impact on employees due to these misleading practices.

In contrast, Costco CEO Craig Jelinek has continued to demonstrate the importance of service leadership that their former CEO, Jim Sinegal espoused for the company. Jelnick has set the organization apart from competitors with his commitment to the employees.  Even Political activist, Ralph Nader in is open letter to Jelinek concerning raising the minimum wage acknowledged that Costco “understands that the success of it business relies on the prosperity and happiness of its employees” (2012). A June 6th, 2013 MSN article, Costco may be the happiest company on Earth provides a great case that service leadership can be an effective leadership approach today.

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  1. Wendy says:

    Meekness is not a weakness but there are those that think less of a person for it.

    There is a definite difference between service leadership and golden parachute leadership. Northouse states “Leaders who serve are altruistic: They place their followers’ welfare foremost in their plans.” Service leadership is displayed through mentoring, collaboration, and respect. Employees are empowered and the leader measures success through employees. In contrast golden parachute leadership is focused on oneself. The parachute contract is written to protect only the leader in case of a company sell out. The leader may communicate well and be charismatic but all motives lead to self empowerment.

    Leaders today do demonstrate The Law of Sacrifice but all too often it is for the wrong reasons. How many leaders have traded being present in their children’s lives for working more hours to get the next big promotion? God tells us which is better in Ephesians 6:7 “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.” We are to encourage, guide others and look out for them.

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