The Path of the Servant

Estimated reading time: 30 minutes

“One does not, of course, ignore the great voices of the past. One does not awaken each morning with the compulsion to reinvent the wheel. But if one is a servant, either leader or follower, one is always searching, listening, expecting that a better wheel for these times is in the making. It may emerge any day. Anyone of us may find it out from personal experience. I am hopeful.”

Robert Greenleaf, “The Servant as Leader”

In his seminal essay, Greenleaf introduced a fundamental concept: great leaders stem from great servants. Those leaders who place the needs of others ahead of their own needs are those who ensure success for their followers, and for their organization as a whole. In correlation, those followers who recognize and embrace their roles as servants, no matter how small their role, ensure the success of those around them, along with the organization they serve. 

Since the introduction of this concept, organizational leaders and thinkers have developed an expansive literature and practice to assist leaders in acquiring this critical perspective as a path to greatness. This revolution in leadership is an overdue acknowledgment that some traits are only sufficiently acquired by eschewing traditional notions of leadership, while engaging in the humbling of one’s self as a servant. Although the concept has demonstrated validity, in my observation, much of the research, evidence, and practice is missing a key perspective.

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Why you need an MSW (and why you don’t)

(Estimated reading time: 22 minutes)

It starts with one factor which may have prevented you from reading this today.

How many emails did you get today? How many texts? Maybe you haven’t noticed the exponential increase anymore; you’re too busy trying to keep up. If you told an earlier version of yourself just how many emails and texts you would handle each day, your younger self would likely be scared. If not, telling s/he about the prevalence of social media in your life might do the trick. Isn’t it funny how some things intended to make our lives easier have instead made it more complicated? 

This may not apply to you. Some of us have a knack for juggling asynchronous communication (the younger the better, it seems). But I’m sure I could find something else, because digital communication is just one example of what we are all struggling with: change

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