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Servant Leadership: A Journey Into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  962 ratings  ·  35 reviews
A classic work on leadership for business men and women, government leaders and all persons in positions of authority.
Hardcover, 370 pages
Published January 1st 2002 by Paulist Press (first published 1977)
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Community Reviews

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Bart Breen
Not a Book for the Weak of Heart

Servant-Leadership is rapidly becoming a popularized term and a popular concept to bandy about in many circles.

This is the book that started that trend.

Published originally in 1977, it contains articles and concepts that found their germination in the turbulant decade of the 1960's. While you might imagine from the term "Servant-Leader" that the ideology of this book stems from religious conviction and it certainly does include that, you may be surprised to read i
Greenleaf sets forth the almost utopic vision of "servant leadership" as a sort of modified "people-first" mentality. The concepts themselves are great. The evidence that he provides is convincing. I also found it interesting that Greenleaf predicted some of the political situations in which we now find ourselves. Why is this interesting? He did it in the 1970s!

I do agree with many of Greenleaf's assertions about servant leadership. I do believe that one of a leader's responsibilities is to trea
Sterling R.
His theory of servant leadership is still very applicable today. Unfortunately, some of his examples of application of this theory were dated and distracting. I would have enjoyed this read much more had Greenleaf focused on the message slightly more than the esoteric world of non-profit foundations, churches, and education of the 60's and 70's.
Julie Connor
In "Servant Leadership," Robert Greenleaf empowers readers with information and insight into the tools, knowledge, and moral aptitude of a true leader. Greenleaf encourages collaboration, trust, listening, and empowerment. He explains how to align one's purpose with one's core values and the importance of aligning one's core values with one's mission and vision. A servant leader upholds the mission and vision of the organization and models an example for all members to follow. "Servant Leadershi ...more
Jun 06, 2012 Ron added it
Shelves: read-2012

Greenleaf's book was recommended to me by a pastor I greatly respect, but it took me some time before I cracked it open. The book seems dated to me in some ways, with a style of prose a bit more obtuse than I am currently used to (perhaps reading so many books to my toddlers is stumping my own comprehension level) and a hope and optimism for the business was toe that I find difficult to swallow in an era when CEOs are making huge salaries and bonuses but the average middle-class or working -cla
Al Gritten
This is a very good book on leaders as servants; doing an excellent job of delineating what that idea truly means. The terminology can be a bit challenging as he writes across institutional lines applying his concepts to business & industry, as well as educational and religious institutions. Greenleaf suggests that foundational to a successful institution is the requirement that it must be more than simply the chief administrator who has a deep commitment. He calls for the board/trustees/syn ...more
This book invites the reader to reflect and look deep into their lives and how they are serving the world. We cannot lead without serving. The book goes into detail of what it takes to be a great leader and some strategies one can do to achieve leadership. A leader is not born, they are created. Some of the language can be a little complex and definitely not suitable for young readers. Also, some of the concepts may be meaningless unless one is mature enough to fully comprehend them. I really en ...more
This is one of those books I'll have to read again in order to understand it a little better. At times, it was a tough slog, and I got the feeling that Mr. Greenleaf really enjoys hearing himself talk. But there are enough nuggets of interest to get me to go back again.
Katherine Collins
Row upon row of airport-bookstore management books cannot hold a candle to this, in my opinion. Greenleaf’s book is now about 30 years old, but in it you see a depth and rootedness that most writing in this genre lacks. It is not “10 Easy Steps to Greatness” but rather a thoughtful reflection on the very essence of leadership. Are you a leader or are you a boss? This is a vital distinction that is often overlooked in our search for efficiency and “professional management” tools.
This is a hefty book. It is definitely one you can "gut" or skim through in sections that don't apply to you, however I guarantee you will read some wisdom that may give you the guidance to walk confident in your calling. Definitely in my must reads for leaders.
Greenleaf can't seem to decide whether his recommendations, which are elusive at times and fragmented at best, are grounded in Christian ethic and truth or not. Some of his fundamental statements are certainly honorable but idealist and utopian in a fallen, sinful, and self-centered world. In some sense, it smelled of a culture reforming theology without the explicit biblical anchor. This is a man with a heavy heart and a strong moral compass that struggled to stay on point. The book provides mo ...more
Timeless messages and great discussion, but the context and writing style leave something to be desired
Sandy H
I found Greenleaf's writing style very difficult to wade through--it felt unnecessarily dry and complex for the subject matter. My second biggest issue with it has more to do with the time in which it was written--it's now about 40 years old--and the fact that it seemed to be reflective of attitudes and assumptions that I no longer carry in today's world. This book laid the foundation of "servant leadership" that has had a major influence on the church but in many ways I found the book condescen ...more
Glenn Williams
The author, regarded as the founder of servant-leadership, proposes that service ought to be the distinguishing characteristic of leadership, while creating stronger corporations and organizations. This book is a collection of essays and talks presented by Greenleaf as he attempts to apply servant-leadership to the fields of education, business, foundations, churches and government. This is an excellent book, made all the better by the outstanding foreword written by Stephen R. Covey.
Great book, but a bit weighty. It'll take me a while to fully process through everything that Greenleaf brings up in the book.
This book is a series of writings and lectures about the concept of servant leadership. Some segments were very specific to servant leadership in churches, education, etc. I did not read this whole book, but did read the parts that applied to my development as a manager, which was most of the book. To that end, I was able to understand and embrace the principles of servant leadership and look forward to applying them in my job.

Unique take on the nature of institutions in the modern world and the role the trustee has as servant-leader. Best quote, "The servant-leader is servant begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead" (p. 27).
Stanley J.
Two great nuggets here:

1. Servant leadership begins with the desire to serve first, not with the desire for leadership benefits.
2. Servant leaders both serve and are served by their organizations - so no martyr leadership.
Michael Haupt
The seminal work on this subject. Greenleaf borrowed many of his ideas from "Journey to the East" by Herman Hesse. Required reading if you are a member of a board of directors or have any leadership role in the world of business.
Heath Alexander
Some good ideas and thoughts, but pretty dry and overly wordy. Each broken down section has the same over-arching theme, but put all the pieces together and the author is really calling for an entire overhaul of western society.
I've read this one at least 3 times; just dipped into it again recently. This is really approachable, wise philosophy. It's applicable to your life, personal, professional and spiritual.
An introduction to servant-leadership - since it's a collection of Greenleaf's essays it gets repetetive, but Greenleaf's message is inspiring and revolutionary nonetheless.
May 19, 2012 Jan is currently reading it
I'm rereading the book from the viewpoint of organizational theory. What does servant leadership mean to each generation in the workplace--modern to postmodern?
There were some good thoughts in the book but I didn't relate to all of the material. I did like his focus on society and how that should be a common goal.
The core idea is solid but it is stretched to excessive page length. This book probably could have been condensed into an oversize edition of the HBR.
Nick Bicandi
Difficult to read and too long. Author made a point and then went on and on about it in a confusing manor until coming back to his original point.
Brian Corbin
Required reading on my business ethics class...great insights into the nature and role of leadership
Anna B
difficult read. probably bcs it is a series of essays written to specific industries/groups.
What a hard slog and not really all there. Much better books in the genre!
Veronica Knudson
I started it, but it is tough to get through. I'll try again another time.
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Goodreads Librari...: page correction request ISBN 9780809105540 1 11 Sep 29, 2013 02:11PM  
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“Don't assume, because you are intelligent, able, and well-motivated, that you are open to communication, that you know how to listen.” 11 likes
“Moral authority is another way to define servant leadership because it represents a reciprocal choice between leader and follower. If the leader is principle centered, he or she will develop moral authority. If the follower is principle centered, he or she will follow the leader. In this sense, both leaders and followers are followers. Why? They follow truth. They follow natural law. They follow principles. They follow a common, agreed-upon vision. They share values. They grow to trust one another.” 3 likes
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