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

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  2,334 ratings  ·  59 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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Bart Breen
May 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2017
This book is directed predominantly at trustees and very high level leaders. Greenleaf's writing is very dry without much practical application for individuals who work in lower levels of an institution.
Jun 02, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: leadership
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
Apr 04, 2009 rated it liked it
His theory of servant leadership is still very applicable today. Unfortunately, some of his examples of the 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 '60s and '70s.
Ying Ying
This book is intense and profound. I give it a three-star rating because while the teachings are extremely valuable, the content is not easily accessible. I will have to read the book one more time to fully absorb its messages.
Elena Astilleros
Feb 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First portion that explains servant leadership is rich with stories and distinctions to help bring the practice to life. Later parts are a decent historical reference to the conversations and debates of the time (written decades ago).
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I've read a lot of books on leadership and its development. Most focus on the How: how to get better, how to acquire the competencies to lead. Many focus on the What: what leadership is, how it's recognized, and what competencies it is composed of. The is one of the rare books that takes a sustained and focused look at the Why: why lead, the motivation, and why that matters.

This is a book of actual philosophy. Philosophy is what distinguishes this from the "self-help" variety of leadership book
Aaron Wong
Dec 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Powers, J. B., & Moore, J. W. (2004). Voices of leadership series (booklet 11): Servant-leadership and the art of teaching. Westfield, IN: The Greenleaf Center for Servant-Leadership.

Inner characteristics or commitments: building community, commitment to growth of people, foresight, conceptualisation, awareness - p. 3

Outer characteristics or practices: listening, empathy, healing, persuasion - p. 14

A leader's power stems from five bases:
1. Coercive: ability to instill fear
2. Reward: ability
Oct 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Hard to follow
Mark Hanson
First few chapters are helpful and worth taking time to interact with. The rest of the book is very disjointed and hard to follow.
Oct 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: leadership
There were some really good ideas in this book, but Greenleaf is not a great writer and there was a sense of vagueness and abstraction to his ideas that made it difficult to grasp what he was envisioning. I am really interested to read more about Servant Leadership from other authors who were inspired by Greenleaf's ideas. There were some sentences and passages in this book with really insightful gems about leadership. The part of the book I found the least interesting was his hypothesizing abou ...more
May 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Giving it 4 based on the concepts behind the book, as in many ways, this concept of Servant Leadership articulated a conceptual and real structure to how I have always approached leading teams, and from that perspective, was validating. The writing however, is old fashioned, painfully formal and disjointed- most of the book is a compilation of various talks, quotes, articles or memos the author has written over time to support his thesis- which becomes tedious. Like most business books, I find, ...more
Owen Raisch
Sep 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely critical perspective on business structure and leadership, informed by the more subtle and effective philosophies of influence.
Joe Stack
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
This should be required reading for individuals who are in management or want to be in a management position.
John Lochner
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
For a real understanding of Servant Leadership
Mar 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Recommended by my boss when I was working in Corporate America. I don't recall specifics but remember that I agreed with the overall concept and wish it was more prevalent.
Dec 16, 2010 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
Mar 18, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Dec 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reflection
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
Royce Rose
Jan 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Went back to read this again. Though dated in its cultural references, Greenleaf presents a powerful description of true servant leadership; leadership focused on every person your enterprise touches - employees, customers, and society in general - asking, "Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?" (p. 2 ...more
Julie Connor
Apr 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Sandy H
Sep 05, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Robert Bogue
I meet monthly with a group of organizational development folks. Some of them are professors. Some are consultants. Others are practitioners in their organizations. I love the meetings because they challenge me to learn and grow. Several of the participants are connected to the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership. It’s through this connection that I came to read Servant Leadership.

Click here to read the full review
Mar 20, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: career
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.
Katherine Collins
May 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business-ish
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.
Glenn Williams
May 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Jun 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
This was much more directed at institution and boards/trustees than I expected. As someone working in the lower ranks, I only took something from a couple of essays.

Greenleaf also has much more faith in the ability of business to transform society than I do. I appreciate his words on the dignity of work but I'm not sure asking big businesses to lead that societal change will bring it about.
Jul 23, 2011 rated it liked it

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).
Louise Sullivan
Mar 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is not the first time I have read Greenleaf"s book and it won't be the last. I was fortunate to take a course on servant leadership that was taught by Larry Spears. Spears was instrumental in getting Greenleaf's work to be publicly available
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Goodreads Librari...: page correction request ISBN 9780809105540 1 13 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.” 18 likes
“Ego can’t sleep. It micro-manages. It disempowers. It reduces our capability. It excels in control.” 7 likes
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