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The Servant: A Simple Story about the True Essence of Leadership
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The Servant: A Simple Story about the True Essence of Leadership

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  6,756 ratings  ·  508 reviews
A lively and engrossing tale about the timeless principles of effective leadership from a consultant and trainer in labor relations with over 20 years of experience.
Hardcover, 187 pages
Published September 1st 1998 by Currency (first published 1996)
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Average rating 3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,756 ratings  ·  508 reviews

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Jul 27, 2009 rated it did not like it
Overall, I found this book to be scripted and cliche'. The teacher only seems to get asked questions to which he has the answers. The individual characters seem like charicatures. I find the way in which they all become equally enlighted at the of the story to feel really fake.

That said, this book has some really good points. Most of them borrowed from others who have said it better and simply regurgitated here using narrative format with very simple language. Personally, I have found the when I
Jun 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
Overall a great read - another practical leadership book told in story form. Interesting cast of characters getting leadership coaching from a cloistered Monk who once was a renowned leader in industry. Nothing earth shattering, but again examples that drove home some concepts, and ideas on how to approach something’s.

Key takeaways;
1: Listening - "true" listening is selfless.

2: Leadership is a choice (You chose it).

3: It is huge responsibility to have been entrusted with the well being of so man
Alison Jones
Jul 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Alison by: My boss
Everyone who needs a kick in the pants to get life/job/relationships back on track needs to read this book. It's not just for those wanting to be good "leaders", it's for those that want to be better people. I loved this book because the author was not pretentious in any way. He had absolute faults - - not slight faults that really don't matter and in no way illustrate the magnitude of the point (cough cough, Stephen M.R. Covey) - - real faults, real moments of shame, insecurity, and need for gr ...more
Lucas Leite
Oct 26, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Superficiality for the masses

When trying to get the ingredients of what has to be good leadership for a successful business through an Anglican monk (!?), author James Hunter makes a 'novel' superficial with predictable and caricatural characters; ending it with a cliché of redemption.

Analyzing only the quality of the plot comes the question: Why not a book essentially technical, involving the issue of leadership? The answer is simple: Because leadership is so worked as the characters in this "b
Feb 16, 2021 rated it did not like it
This book is sexist, racist, outdated, and poorly written. The book was thinly veiled christian proselytizing which felt manipulative. If you're going to proselytize my queer atheist ass, at least be direct and honest about it. This book was so bad it was actually laughable at times. Also, the author looks exactly like the My Pillow guy, so.... ...more
Grant Dennis
Dec 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Although the writing seemed cliche at points, there were a few takeaways about leadership that I found extremely important. Particularly discussing the responsibility of a leader to “love” (verb) their followers in a 1 Corinthians 13 sense
James Wirshing
Mar 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book. This is a story-type tale of John Daily, a businessman whose outwardly successful life is spiraling out of control. He reluctantly attends a weeklong leadership retreat at a remote Benedictine monastery. Along the way, he (and the other attendees) learns that the true foundaton of leadership is not power, but authority, which is built upon relationships, love, service, and sacrifice.

Makes the important distinction between serving the needs of others vs being a slave to their w
May 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017
I had to read this book as a part of my training for a mission trip leadership position. Overall, I love the model presented of servant leadership, but I felt that the novel itself was contrived, cliche, dumbed-down, and full of the most unrealistic dialogue known to man. I think this content would have been better served by a more straightforward, non-fiction, informational book. This blend between informative and narrative just ended up being a really clunky, poorly written allegory.

If you're
Oct 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
While it does occasionally show its age, it's an easy-read of an account of a man learning about modern, others-first leadership. I found its lessons very useful, with plenty of "food for thought" on my own behaviors and leadership skills. ...more
I've decided to stop rating non-fiction for now. ...more
Borat Ny
Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I’ve just finished this book, and would recommend this one to those who seek to learn more about leadership. The book lays out the perfect foundation on leadership I’ve ever read. The leadership principles shared in this book are not new, yet very refreshing as this morning’s sun rise, ranging from effective leadership definitions to model and characters, etc. The stories in the book are very engaging and I would say there are a lots to learn from it.
Jul 22, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: work
nothing new in this book even when it was printed. the concepts are dated, overtly religious, and sexist.
Jim Razinha
Jan 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
If you read only one book on leadership... ...please, don't choose this one.

Derivative, ham-fisted and dumbed down beyond the point of obvious, Hunter takes the childish simplicity of something like Blanchard's didacticism and bafflingly makes it even more banal. And he's blind to his flaws. Tell me what's wrong with this, Hunter's introduction to the cast of caricatures...uh, characters...he'll use to hammer...uh, illustrate...his points:
The teacher asked the six of us to introduce ourselves w
Feb 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Paciencia, Bondade, Humildade, Respeito, Generosidade, Perdão, Honestidade, Compromisso.
Esse livro possui muitas informções de como se tornar um líder. Ele traça bons paralelos com a administração moderna não é só um livro de auto-ajuda ele também é educativo.
Mas de toda a minha leitura, a qual apreciei muito, o ensinamento que mais me marcou foram as atitudes de amor para o seu cotidiano para se tornar um profissional melhor e ser humano melhor. e adorei ainda mais por que ele não só te instrui
Mar 23, 2013 rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading this book. The author weaves the tail of
an executive who, while visiting a monastery attains lessons
on authority and leadership. The author explains that trust is essentially
built by pushing others to gently achieve their NEEDS (not wants) which in return
builds an eagerness in others to follow you. The author also makes the clear
distinction that POWER = Foreceful cohesion and that the ability to force or coerce someone
to do your will (Do it or I'll fire you, do it or we'll bomb
Jan 21, 2013 rated it liked it
I was assigned this book because my job was bringing in the author to speak. I enjoyed the book but I must say by the end I felt like it was simply a regurgitation of all those leadership phrases bundled in one book, with the exception that Hunter pairs each revelation with a character. I'll practice hunters principles however I only take on the responsibility of a leader 4 months of the year, and unfortunately we had one of these motivational speakers come last year, and as hunter states "nothi ...more
Cathy Sites
Mar 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Nice, short storytelling on leadership. Author created an engaging setting with some comic relief (The Sargent) that keeps the reader engaged. In the end, basic principles of be kind, and kinder still.

2019 UPDATE - read for a 2nd time because author is coming to our work....Still a 3 star rating. And Sargent is still the winner.
Waris Ahmad Faizi
A very powerful insights and thoughts have been added to the book by Mr. James C. Hunter. He actually did a really good job. The way he turned the lessons into story is just awesome. I really liked the book and recommend for anyone who want to get and feel the real joy in life through serving and living for others by being an authority-based leader (Servant Leader).

Here are the summary of some of the great insights I noted from the book:

Trust is the glue that holds relationships toget
Jul 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: leadership
Occasionally you come across a book that hits exactly at what you were thinking. This is such a book. A quick read in the form of a parable, this book possess powerful lessons for all leaders to ponder.
Jay Dawkins
Aug 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: must-read
This book greatly shaped the way I ran student government during my time at NC State. Some timeless principles about humility, service and commitment.
Leroy O'Donnell
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it

“Leadership is not about personality, possessions, or charisma, but all about who you are as a person. I used to believe that leadership was about style but now I know that leadership is about substance, namely character.”

“Serving others breaks you free from the shackles of self and self-absorption that choke out the joy of living.”

“...leaders who do not hold their people accountable to a set standard are, in effect, thieves and liars. Thieves because they are stealing from the stockholder who p
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This book was written at the onset (1970) of what has become a common literary genre in leadership materials. It is a fictional work that simulates an one week retreat in a Catholic monastery. The six participants and one former Fortune 500 leader turned monk spend six days walking through animated discussions about servant leadership principles.

The main voice is from one of the participants named John Daily who is undergoing a series of life challenges at his factory and in his home life. Daily
Abi Olvera
Dec 08, 2017 rated it liked it
I am surprised that this book is on the national best selling list in Brazil - while it has useful points, it is almost entirely anecdotal. It uses many inspirational quotes to get the author's point across and some examples from specific famous leaders and not much else. It discusses the Golden rule and how it applies to leaders, naming leaders who motivate others well. A few takeaways that I did find useful: start looking out for the good in others, and you'll see things you don't normally not ...more
Jan 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: development
Servant Leadership - it is not giving people what they want but what they need. Sometime what they need is not pleasant.

Leaders who do not hold their people are thieves and liars. If you do not hold your people to the standard expectation, you are stealing from shareholders and lying to the employee by making them think that everything is ok, when it is not.

Serve to support employees because if they are serving you, they are looking up to you and turning their back on the customer.

Everyone like
Tony Segreto
Dec 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
What is the Servant about? It tells the story of a man who goes on a leadership retreat at a Benedictine monk monastery. Leadership lessons galore, this small book makes the connection between leadership and relationships; and indicates that the core of leadership is the ability to identify and fulfill the needs of others. Through having positive relationships where you, as the leader, look to improve and add value to other's experience is paramount to leadership. I really liked how Hunter broke ...more
Ashley M
Sep 22, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: year-2018
Required as part of a well-meaning class. Simplistic writing, stereotyped caricatures including irritatingly self-absorbed, dense, and dull "protagonist", do-nothing "good" preacher, studious educational administrator, reformed business tycoon, and berating military man. It's never clear that anyone but the narrator learned anything over the course of the week which despite the author continuing to have the narrator ask, "where has the time gone this week?" They are the only one feeling that way ...more
Chad Schultz
Feb 01, 2020 rated it liked it
I think the book was originally written in 1998, but it feels much older than that. It's a business fable about a man at a small leadership class at a monastery. Cliches and well-worn quotes and stories are jammed into the dialogue of the characters, even when they seem unnatural.
Ironically, near the beginning - after the author talks about how popular this book is - the characters discuss how reading books and going to seminars rarely changes behavior. Everyone agrees in theory that you get be
Marco Sobreira
Aug 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing

Great book! I recommend.

"I would like to spend this last day with you talking about the responsibility and the choices we make. As we saw on Wednesday, I believe that leadership starts with a choice. Some of those choices include facing the tremendous responsibilities we face up to. assume and align our actions with good intentions. But many people don't want to take proper responsibility in their lives and prefer to ignore that responsibility.

"Funny you should say that, Simeon," began the nurse
Dec 27, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dont-own-read
Absolutely hate this book. Evangelism dressed up as leadership. Pretentious, hypocritical, sexist, toxic masculinity, and rigid gender stereotyping of the characters.

Also borrowed without crediting some of the most central tenants from other religious, didn’t flush them out, and passed them off as unique to Christianity.

Myth debunk: if you are going to claim that Christianity is the the largest world religion, it isn’t because Jesus was the “greatest leader.” Christianity portrays itself as a
May 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
A clear and compelling case that leadership is about serving the needs of others, that it surpasses hierarchies and power struggles, and can heal all our relationships. True leadership is a win-win for all, at the cost of ego and power. The principles here were presented simply enough that it is accessible to nearly any reader, with a good mix of exposition and illustration. The monastery retreat class context was a little boring, forced, and inconclusive. dialogue from the various students are ...more
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JAMES C. HUNTER é consultor-chefe da J. D. Associados, uma empresa de consultoria de relações de trabalho e treinamento. Com mais de 20 anos de experiência, Hunter é muito solicitado como instrutor e palestrante, principalmente nas áreas de liderança funcional e organização de grupos comunitários. Atualmente, ele mora em Michigan com a esposa e a filha.

Chefe da J.D. Hunter Associados, uma empresa

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