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Servant Leadership [25th Anniversary Edition]: A Journey Into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  2,539 ratings  ·  72 reviews
The Revolution Has Only Just Begun Twenty-five years ago Robert Greenleaf published these prophetic essays on what he coined servant leadership, a practical philosophy that replaces traditional autocratic leadership with a holistic, ethical approach. This highly influential book has been embraced by cutting edge management everywhere. Yet in these days of Enron and what ...more
Hardcover, 370 pages
Published November 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
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
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).
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
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.
Rhonda Sue
Mar 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is one of those classic books on leadership that should be read by anyone who is gearing for a leadership role. Although the first edition dates from 1977, the concepts and principles are still valid, now more than ever. The foreword is by guru Stephen Covey and the Afterword by guru Peter Senge.

Chapter 1-The Servant As Leader: We need to empower people and to have a culture of trust, morals, conscience; leaders need moral authority. Sadly, I don't see much of this today but let's move on.
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 ...more
James Wilson
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: leadership
This is a great book on leadership development. Robert Greenleaf breaks down servant leadership in several different models from institution to business. This book discusses issues that will help develop servanthood and leadership in the reader if applied. There is no step-by-step manual, so the reader has to pull out the tools and work to apply them in their development. Everyone is different, with assorted backgrounds and education so one may need something that another does not and ...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
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book changed a lot of my assumptions about power and leadership.

This quote is pretty illustrative:

"Leadership is the capacity of a human community to shape its future."

and this one, toward the end,

"[Servand leadership] seeks to create organizations in which individual stakeholders become healthier, wiser, freer, and more autonomous, and, in so doing, build a better, more humane society that welcomes the full diversity of the human family."
Nynke Doesburg
Dec 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Written in 1977, many chapters feel outdated, but is amazing to me how its core premises feel so familiar and are of every age.
Issues like:
- being an ethical, responsible leader;
- if youre a follower, to be critical which leader to follow;
- trusting people and gaining trust;
- to communicate openly;
Many authors, like Covey or Sinek, stand on the shoulders of Greenleaf. Im sure of it.
Jonathan Bilbrey
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Insightful and thought provoking. This book pulls so much reality into a the professional world that it makes me think that we have been approaching leadership the wrong way for so long.

I love the stories of his experiences with the great influences in his life. I look forward to adjusting my approach to leadership in a way that would parallel the values stated within these pages.
Mike Finton

This book is so deep, it is hard to follow at times. I have been committed to being a servant leader and wanted to know about it's origins. I think it has evolved to something more workable and understandable than the deep theory this book presents.
Jul 25, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Tough Read. Ive read scholarly journals that were an easier read than this. I started with this author on the recommendations that this book was the best start in my servant-leader journey. Almost quit before I got out of the gate. Whew. Glad this is over. Moving on. ...more
Apr 06, 2020 rated it did not like it
Good ideas, but what a tedious read! It is wordy and circular and I just could not stay engaged. The most reader friendly part was the afterword. In fact, it wasn't until I got to the clear writing in the afterword that I began to understand what point Greenleaf may have been trying to make.
Paul Dubuc
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: leadership
This is a classic work on a view of leadership that seems all too rare today in government, business, education, and the church yet it's influence has taken hold in some places and will hopefully grow and continue.
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.
Ouriel Attal
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Extremely inspiring way to look at the role of a leader and what is one's responsibility to the next generations.
Apr 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This is an excellent book. It was written 42 years ago and it is relevant and challenging.
Aug 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A must for the servant leadership practitioner.
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.
John Lochner
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
For a real understanding of Servant Leadership
Gris Mcksomething
Mar 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Pretty dry reading. If you dont see these practices from the people above or you arent providing them to the people you lead... time to consider your path. ...more
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
The concepts are good, but the delivery leaves a lot to be desired. What could have been a really interesting read is painful and laborious.
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
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 ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: page correction request ISBN 9780809105540 1 14 Sep 29, 2013 02:11PM  

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