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.