Monograph 2: Transformational Servant Leadership

Transformational Servant Leadership

MA in Leadership and MA in Educational Leadership at TWU

Leadership Monograph

Imbenzi George, Daryl Page and David Williaume.

Transformational Servant Leadership – Version 7

While leadership has been practiced since the beginning of time, only recently has it become a discipline that is intentionally studied and investigated. Leadership must be engaging and also move us to be open to change. It should be able to provide a compelling vision of the possible future, showing the way through rational strategies, truly empowering people through individualized consideration and intellectual stimulation, developing their competencies, providing appropriate resources and opportunity, and inspiring people to want to do the things that enable the organization to attain its vision.

According to Remple (2010) the MA in Leadership and Educational Leadership programs have an integrated foundational (Jesus) and theoretical/conceptual paradigm (transformational servant leadership) that defines the essence of the program and how it is uniquely potent in its practical study emphases and professional practice of organization leadership in individual work situations. This has become the program brand. Transformational servant leadership transcends informal relationships to include a study of leadership in organizations, with specific attention to how people are valued and empowered while also creating shared decision-making responsibility and authority over policy, program, and delivery systems, contributing to optimal organizational performance outcomes or results. Understanding the extent to which the leader is able to shift the primary focus of his or her leadership from the organization to the follower is the distinguishing factor in determining whether the leader may be a transformational or servant leader.

Theories of Leadership

In looking at the theories and concepts relevant to organizational leadership Remple (2010) believes that these theories and concepts speak to both leader and follower factors, as well as factors associated with leadership/organizational processes and organizational performance outcomes. According to Remple these theories include the following.

Leadership Trait Theory

Leadership Trait Theory assumes that one is either born with leadership talent or one does not have it. A key leadership approach of interest references personality traits (Lord, DeVader, and Alliger, 1986; Mann, 1959; Stogdill, 1948; Stogdill, 1974). Leader personality traits impact leadership effectiveness;

Leadership Style Theory

Leadership Style Theory characterizes patterns of leadership as democratic, autocratic, and laissez-faire. Organization leadership style became very important in the dialogue, and emphasized the behavior of the organization leader, that is, what they do and how they act or their leadership capabilities. The focus was on leadership styles relative to followers in various contexts, and which resulting combinations produce the best outcomes. Blake and Mouton (1964, 1978, and 1985) and Yukl (1994) have conducted many studies on leadership style influences in relationships and completion of formal tasks;

Situational Leadership

Situational Leadership asserts that individuals have leadership ability that can be observed in specific situations. One of the more widely recognized research initiatives in recent years has focused on situational leadership factors (Hersey & Blanchard, 1969), and later Blanchard, Zigarmi, and Nelsen (1993). The premise is that different work situations require different leader and follower approaches, often in relation to direction versus support situations in the organization. Blanchard and Hodges (2003) suggest a situational servant leadership variant in which the leader decides when to be more directive and when to be more supportive in various situations depending on people, their skills and motivation (p. 75).

Authentic Leadership

In their definition Avolio and Gardner (2005) see authentic leadership as a root concept underlying positive leadership approaches. The concept further supported by van Dierendonck (2011) in asserting that authentic leaders work through an increased self-awareness, relational transparency, internalized transparency, internalized moral perspective, and balanced processing to encourage authenticity in their followers.

Ethical Leadership

In its similarity to servant leadership, Brown, Trevino, and Harrison (2005) have defined ethical leadership as “the demonstration of normatively appropriate conduct through personal actions and interpersonal relationships, and the promotion of such conduct to followers through two-way communication, reinforcement and decision-making” (p. 120). Ethical leadership is a more normative approach that focuses on the question of appropriate behavior in organizations. According to van Dierendonck (2011), it is similar to servant leadership in terms of caring for people, integrity, trustworthiness, and serving the good of the whole. The two-way communication mentioned in the definition sounds similar to Greenleaf’s emphasis on persuasion and an open culture.

Spiritual Leadership

In an organizational setting, spiritual leadership emphasizes a sense of meaning at work and focuses on organizational values that allow for a feeling of transcendence and a feeling of connectedness to others (Pawar, 2008). Fry and Slocum (2008) assert that spiritual leadership starts with creating a vision through which a sense of calling can be experienced and establishing a culture that helps to intrinsically motivate both oneself as leader and the people within one’s team or organization and helps followers find a sense of meaning.

Foundational Base: Jesus

In Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 20 beginning in verse 25 we have a clear statement of how Jesus’ conception of leadership contrasted with the prevailing understandings of that day. He turned the prevailing paradigm upside- down by asserting, “Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant” (verse 26, NASB). To further reinforce this new paradigm, Jesus pointed to himself as an example, and flatly stated, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (verse 28). John’s Gospel records a graphic demonstration of this attitude—at the final meal with his disciples, Jesus removed his outer garments and, assuming the most menial of roles, washed his disciples feet (John 13: 1-17). Within a matter of hours, Jesus would fulfil the final task described in the last part of Matthew 20: 28.

While the Apostle Paul was not an eye-witness of the foot-washing event, he was very familiar with the implications. In his letter to the church at Philippi, he issued this imperative: “Have this attitude in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5, NASB). Paul described in detail how this attitude was expressed in what Jesus accomplished on the cross, using emotionally charged terms such as “bond-servant” (verse 7) and “humbled Himself” (verse 8).

The essence of Jesus’ attitude was that his primary focus was on serving others, not self. The things he did were motivated by a care and concern for what was in the best interests of, first, his Father, and second, people around him. Thus, a primary attribute of Jesus is that he served others rather than self. Jesus was the archetypical servant, and as followers of Jesus Christ, we are admonished to exhibit the same fundamental attitude. Consequently, at the deepest levels, we as leaders must also be other-focused, not self-focused.

Theoretical/Conceptual Base: Transformational Servant Leadership

The primary theoretical/conceptual base that underlies the Master of Arts in Leadership program can be characterized as transformational servant leadership, and the attendant values and ethics associated with transformational servant leadership. Transformational servant leadership is itself a compound term, consisting of elements of both transformational leadership and servant leadership. While there is significant conceptual overlap between the two terms, there are important nuances that differentiate them. In the Master of Arts in Leadership program, the term transformational is intended to be a modifier of the more important term servant leadership.

Transformational Leadership

Transformational leadership is not limited to a leader transforming and influencing followers. Building from the foundation of other-focus, transformational leadership is about leaders and followers transforming each other and the collective whole. Thus, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Transformational leaders engage others, thus creating a connection that raises the level of motivation and morality. It changes and transforms all individuals, treating all as equal human beings. It moves followers to accomplish more than merely what is expected of them. Burns (1978) was the first person who built upon this theory by trying to link leaders and followers in a relationship. Transformational leaders are often visionary, charismatic leaders. Bass (1985) argued that transformational leadership motivates followers to do more than expected by raising followers’ levels of consciousness regarding goals, getting followers to transcend their own self-interest, and moving followers to address higher level needs. Transformational leadership is not merely directive. It is concerned with the performance and development of followers to their maximum potential. Such leaders often have strong internal ideas and values, and they are capable of motivating followers to act in ways that support the greater good rather than acting out of self-interest. This can also include individualized consideration, where the leader understands the unique differences of each individual and responds accordingly (Bass, 1985; Burns, 1978; Northouse, 2013).

Transformational Leadership is characterized by four primary behaviors: idealized (or charismatic) influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration (Avolio, Waldman & Yammarino, 1991). According to Stone, Russell and Patterson (2004, p. 352) these functional attributes are marked by accompanying attributes as follows:

  • Idealized influence/charisma: vision, trust, respect, risk-sharing, integrity, modeling.
  • Inspirational motivation: commitment to goals, communication, enthusiasm.
  • Intellectual stimulation: rationality, problem solving
  • Individualized consideration: personal attention, mentoring, listening, empowerment
Servant Leadership

Servant leadership builds upon transformational leadership. It is derived from two primary sources: the writings of Robert Greenleaf and as earlier stated, the Bible (particularly Jesus as recorded in the New Testament). Building on the foundation of other-focus, servant leadership holds that people produce best when the leader takes care of the follower, by meeting their personal needs and supporting them in the workplace. The Hawthorne Studies showed that people produce more when they feel like someone is watching, whether it is because they know a supervisor is watching or because they feel like someone cares. People want to be listened to and cared for (Zaleznik, 1984). When they work in a rare organization that cares for its people, they take care of the organization. Southwest Airlines boasts a corporate culture where the customer comes second, because the employees take care of the customers if the employees are cared for. Servant leadership also proves the importance of a strong relationship built on mutual trust and respect (Greenleaf, 1977).

The term servant leadership was coined by Robert Greenleaf (1904-1990) in his seminal work “The Servant as Leader,” first published in 1970:

The Servant-Leader is servant first. . . . It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. . . . The best test, and difficult to administer is this: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, and more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit, or at least not further be harmed? (1977, p. 7)

Numerous scholars have extended Greenleaf’s initial conception. Northouse provides this helpful amplification:

Although complex, this definition sets forth the basic ideas of servant leadership that have been highlighted by current scholars. Servant leaders place the good of followers over their own self-interests and emphasize follower development (Hale & Fields, 2007). They demonstrate strong moral behaviour towards followers (Graham, 1991; Walumbwa, Hartnell & Oke, 2010), the organization and other stakeholders (Ehrhart, 2004). Practicing servant leadership comes more naturally for some than others, but everyone can learn to be a servant leader (Spears, 2010). (Northouse 2013, p. 220)

The difference between a servant leader and other approaches to leadership manifests itself in the care taken by the servant to first make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served (Greenleaf, Frick, & Spears, 1996). A characteristic of servant leadership is to serve the real needs of people, needs that can only be discovered by listening. Greenleaf asserts that leadership is about choosing to serve others and making available resources that fulfill a higher purpose, and in turn, give meaning to work. He suggests there is a moral principle emerging that guides leadership, and perhaps always has: the only authority deserving one’s allegiance is that which is freely and knowingly granted by the led to the leader in response to, and in proportion to, the clearly evident servant stature of the leader. The servant-leader’s drive is governed by creating within the organization opportunities to help followers grow (Luthans & Avolio, 2003). Compared to other leadership styles where the ultimate goal is the well- being of the organization, a servant leader is genuinely concerned with serving followers (Greenleaf, 1977; Stone, Russell, and Patterson, 2004). This person-oriented attitude makes way for safe and strong relationships within the organization.

Furthermore, as Greenleaf (1998) puts it, servants that are chosen to be leaders are greatly supported by their employees because they have committed themselves and are reliable. This observation is further supported by van Dierendonck’s (2011) contention that a servant leader creates an environment that encourages followers to become the very best they can. Followers in a servant-lead organization will freely respond only to individuals who are recognized as leaders because they are proven and trusted as servants.

An examination of the leadership literature reveals a number of suggested typologies to describe characteristics of servant leaders. Dennis and Bocarnea (2005) identify empowerment, trust, humility, agapao love and vision. Bartuto and Wheeler (2006) cite the presence of an altruistic calling, emotional healing, persuasive mapping, organizational stewardship and wisdom. Sendjaya, Sarros and Santora (2008) identify transforming influence, voluntary subordination, authentic self, transcendent spirituality, covenantal relationship and responsible morality. Van Dierendonck and Nuijten (2011) list empowerment, humility, standing back, authenticity, forgiveness, courage, accountability, and stewardship. All of these reflect a direct building upon and extension of the foundational thought of Robert Greenleaf.

Characteristics of Servant Leadership

After extensive analysis of Greenleaf’s writings, Larry Spears (2004) suggests ten characteristics that appear to be central to the development of servant-leaders and which also serve to communicate the power and promise which this concept offers to those who are open to its invitation and challenge.


“Leaders have traditionally been valued for their communication and decision-making skills. While these are also important skills for the Servant-Leader, they need to be reinforced by a deep commitment to listening intently to others” (Spears 2004, p. 13). Ferch and Spears (2011) suggested that, “Listening also encompasses getting in touch with one’s own inner voice and seeking to understand what one’s body, spirit, and mind are communicating” (p. 11).

The Servant-Leader identifies and helps clarify the will of the group by listening receptively to what is being said, and not said. Listening followed by reflection contributes to the growth of the Servant-Leader.


“The Servant-Leader strives to understand and empathize with others. People need to be accepted and recognized for their special and unique spirits. One assumes the good intentions of co-workers and does not reject them as people, even when one is forced to refuse to accept their behavior or performance” (Spears, 2004, p. 13). Ferch and Spears (2011) stated, “The most successful Servant-Leaders are those who have become skilled empathetic listeners” (p. 11).


“Learning to heal is a powerful force for transformation and integration” (Spears 2004, p. 13) . A great strength of Servant-Leadership is the potential it holds for personal healing, as well as one’s relationship to others. Servant-Leaders are cognizant of the opportunity to “help make whole” those with whom they come in contact (p. 13). In The Servant as Leader, Greenleaf (1977) writes: “There is something subtle communicated to one who is being served and led if, implicit in the contract between servant-leader and led, is the understanding that the search for wholeness is something they share” (p.36)


“General awareness, and especially self-awareness, strengthens the Servant-Leader” (Spears 2004, p. 14). Awareness is integral in understanding issues involving ethics and values, and allows the servant-leader to be able to view situations in a more integrated, holistic way. Waite (2011) asserts that self-awareness strengthens the servant leader, and aids in the understanding of issues involving ethics and values. This quality is developed through self-reflection, listening, continually being open to learning, and forming a connection from what we know and believe to what we say or do.


The emphasis on persuasion rather than coercion offers one of the clearest distinctions between servant- leadership and traditional authoritarian models. Servant-Leaders rely upon persuasion, rather than positional authority, in making decisions within an organization, and seek to convince rather than coerce compliance.

Consequently, the servant-leader effectively builds consensus within groups. This emphasis on persuasion over coercion is consistent with the beliefs of The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) –the denomination that Robert Greenleaf and more currently Larry Spears are associated with.


“Servant-Leaders seek to nurture their abilities to “dream great dreams.” The ability to look at a problem (or an organization) from a conceptualizing perspective means that one must think beyond day-to-day realities” (Spears 2004, p. 14). While the traditional manager is driven by the urgency to achieve short term operational goals, the servant-leader “must stretch his or her thinking to encompass broader-based conceptual thinking” (p. 14).

Consequently, servant-leaders must find a balance between “conceptual thinking and a day-to-day focused approach” (p. 15).


“Foresight is a characteristic that enables the servant-leader to understand the lessons from the past, the realities of the present, and the likely consequences of a decision for the future” (Spears 2004, p. 15). Foresight is an outcome of intuitive mind, and consequently, unlike the other servant-leader characteristics which can be developed, may be “the one servant-leader characteristic with which one may be born” (p. 15).


Peter Block has defined stewardship as “holding something in trust for another” (1993, p. xx). Haar (2012) asserts that stewardship represents an act of trust. People and institutions entrust a leader with specific obligations and duties with the expectation that the leader will fulfill and perform the obligations and duties on their behalf. Stewardship also involves the leader’s personal responsibility to manage his or her life and affairs with consideration for the rights of other people and for the common welfare. “Servant-Leadership, like stewardship, assumes first-and-foremost a commitment to serving the needs of others. It also emphasizes the use of openness and persuasion, rather than control” (Spears 2004, p. 15).

Commitment to the Growth of People

“Servant-Leaders believe that people have an intrinsic value beyond their tangible contributions as workers. As such, the Servant-Leader is deeply committed to the growth of each and every individual within his or her institution” (Spears 2004, p. 15). The Servant-Leader seeks to “nurture the personal, professional and spiritual growth of employees” (p.15).

Building Community

The servant-leader seeks “to identify some means for building community among those who work within a given institution. Servant-Leadership suggests that true community can be created among those who work in businesses and other institutions” (Spears 2004, p. 16). Community is built as individual servant-leaders demonstrate his or her “own unlimited liability for a quite specific community, related group” (p. 16).

An Integration of Transformational and Servant Leadership

As we have seen, Transformational Servant Leadership is itself a composite term, combining aspects of transformational leadership and servant leadership. Stone, Russell and Patterson (2004) assert that they are complementary theories. Both frameworks incorporate influence, vision, trust, respect or credibility, risk-sharing or delegation, integrity and modeling (p. 354). However, they differ in one primary focus. While both show concern for their followers, “the overriding focus of the servant leader is upon service to their followers,” while the transformational leader “has a greater concern for getting followers to engage in and support organizational objectives” (p. 354). The co-mingling of these approaches by this program is intentional, reflecting the belief that the most effective leaders ultimately must serve both interests.

According to Greenleaf (1977), the key to viability in servant-led organizations is commitment to a “people first” philosophy resulting in “people building” (p. 40) institutions. He stated, “The first order of business is to build a group of people who, under the influence of the institution, grow taller and become healthier, stronger, more autonomous” (pp. 39-40).

Making a commitment to become a transformational servant leader is not only desirable, but possible. Remple (2010) offers the reminder in telling that as a constituent contributor to the achievement of university ends, the MA in Leadership and Educational Leadership programs exists to challenge students think critically about transformational servant leadership by providing a compelling vision for the future through rational strategies, people empowerment, intellectual stimulation, and competency development while inspiring them to want to do more things that enable their organization attain its vision.

Following are some brief descriptors of how servant leadership is expressed in a variety of specific contexts. The streams in the Master of Arts in Leadership program provide the conceptual frame:


In the article, “The Power of Servant Leadership to Transform Healthcare Organizations for the 21stCentury Economy” Schwartz and Tumblin (2002) contend that only through the development of the interrelated competencies inherent to situational, transformational, and servant leadership principles will healthcare systems survive and thrive. They further believe that prevailing transactional (commodity-drive) leadership interactions often fail to mobilize employee performance and results in customer dissatisfaction. In contrast, transformational leadership results in profit by stimulation and leveraging the most important asset of service industry corporations (i.e., personal and intellectual property). Schwartz and Tumblin’s (2002) analysis shows that healthcare, as the largest service economy in the United States, has an inherent servant nature. This view that calls for changes also show that transformation of healthcare organizations into learning organizations will occur only under the guidance of leaders who can amply demonstrate emotional intelligence and ethical behavior, as well as technical competencies. Furthermore, these characteristics model by leaders must be successfully transferred across the entire organization. Such leadership will move beyond transactional exchange to engender emotional commitment of the employees and stimulate intellectual capital. In a further affirmation, Schwartz and Tumblin (2002) believe that competitive 21st-century healthcare firms will be characterised as adaptable, creative, relationship oriented, communicative, team driven, having flattened hierarchies, and able to retain employees and engender loyalty in customers.

Schwartz and Tumblin’s belief is well placed. Consider the following frank observation made by Al Stubblefield regarding the turn-around of the Baptist Healthcare organization.

How did we achieve such a tremendous turnaround so quickly? We discovered that the key to patient satisfaction is to focus not on patients first, but on your employees. We quickly realized that the satisfaction of our patients was directly related to the satisfaction of our employees; only happy, fulfilled employees will provide the highest level of healthcare to our patients. Therefore, we reasoned, “all” we had to do was find a way to satisfy every employee, who would then in turn create happy customers. With that determination, we faced an even harder question: How do we fill our organization with satisfied employees? (2005, p. 5)

Stubblefield’s experience is extensively chronicled in The Baptist Healthcare Journey to Excellence. It is no accident that servant leadership has attracted a great deal of attention within the healthcare sector.


Social capital at the organizational level, according to Ruíz, Martínez & Rodrigo (2010), is usually understood as a multidimensional concept related to the set of potential intangible resources that are embedded within, available through, and derived from a network of agents’ relations. Those resources facilitate business value creation having important implications for business professionals. Nevertheless, although so much academic and professional work has been dedicated to the concept of social capital, this effort has been mainly focused on the study of inter-organizational relations. Theoretical and empirical studies of antecedents and consequences of intra-organizational social capital have been scarce, which suggests that further research is needed in that matter. This paper explores the antecedents of intra- organizational social capital from a comprehensive perspective that integrates leadership as the main antecedent. To be precise, we propose that intra-organizational social capital is a direct consequence of an organizational ethical and community context to which leadership in the servant dimension plays a transcendental role. Indeed, since the foundational work of Greenleaf (1977) the servant leadership concept has been widespread among business academics and professionals for the value it brings to the organization not only in ethical but also in excellence terms. Among the recent styles and theories on leadership up to date, servant leadership provides the frame for an organizational ethical context both at the organizational or group level, acting in addition as a main promoter of that context.

There is abundant evidence that servant-led businesses thrive. Jerry Glashagel (2009) documents the success stories of eight servant-led businesses, ranging from large corporations (TDIndustries, Johnsonville Sausage, the Toro Company) to a family farm (First Fruits). Three organizations in the top ten of the Fortune Magazine’s 100 best companies to work for in 2001 make explicit use of servant-leadership with their corporate culture (Ruschman 2002, p. 123). These include Southwest Airlines, Synovus Financial Corporation, and the aforementioned TDIndustries.

Non Profit

Within the non-profit sector, Parolini (2004) suggested that, “Servant leaders are defined by their ability to bring integrity, humility, and servanthood into caring for, empowering, and developing of others in carrying out the tasks and processes of visioning, goal setting, leading, modeling, team building, and shared decision-making” (p. 9). Within this sector it remains crucial that understanding how the right kind of leadership can create meaningful and value laden opportunities and an engaged workforce through the application of Christian worldview perspectives on leadership.

Christian Ministry

According to Kohl (2006), theology needs to be seen as a verb, not just as a noun, if men and women are to be adequately trained for servant leadership of the church as reflected in the Great Commission (Matthew 28.19-20) Furthermore we are called to understand that the biblical perspective on the practice of Servant Leadership affirms human dignity, increases the bond of community by fostering compassion and attention to people’s needs, empowers people and helps them develop character, moderates and critiques the use of power, and provides an environment that promotes justice.


Hays (2008) contends that transformational servant leadership changes the role of teacher in relationship with students from one of teacher as authority, director, wielder of power, and who has the last (if not only) say to teacher who serves students and society: who gives them voice, puts their welfare before self, and serves the interests of learning. Servant teaching offers a richness of experience, and permits and promotes learning to occur that may be virtually impossible to achieve through other means. While servant teaching is fraught with all the perils of giving up power and control, and challenges both students and instructors in the process, the benefits, which include greater engagement, increased autonomy and self- direction, deepened appreciation for change, and developing skills, attitudes, and understandings that transcend the classroom, make the risk worthwhile.

Thomas Sergiovanni is recognized as a leading thinker in education, and has long advocated for servant- leaders in educational contexts. He puts it bluntly when he asserts, “Servant leadership is the means by which leaders can get the necessary legitimacy to lead” (Sergiovanni 2007, p. 50). Servant leadership brings a leadership strength based on moral authority (p. 53), and finds ultimate expression in stewardship. He observes,

The concept of stewardship furnishes an attractive image of leadership, for it embraces all members of the school as community and tall those who are served by the community. Parents, teachers and administrators share stewardship responsibility for students. Students join the others in stewardship responsibility for the school as learning community.” (Sergiovanni 2007, p. 59)

Sergiovanni goes on to suggest that servant leaders lead by purposing, empowerment, and leadership by outrage. Purposing is building “within the school a center of shared values that transforms it from a mere organization into a covenantal community” (2007, p. 54). Building on purposing, empowerment allows everyone the freedom to do what makes sense “so long as people’s decisions embody the values shared by the school community” (p. 54). Empowerment is inextricably linked to enablement. Finally, “It is the leader’s responsibility to be outraged when empowerment is abused and when purposes are ignored.

Moreover, all members of the school community are obliged to show outrage when the standard falls” (p. 54).


Van Dierendonck (2011) believes that leaders who combine their motivation to lead with a need to serve display servant leadership. Personal characteristics and culture are positioned alongside the motivational dimension. Servant leadership is demonstrated by empowering and developing people; by expressing humility, authenticity, interpersonal acceptance, and stewardship; and by providing direction. A high-quality dyadic relationship, trust, and fairness are expected to be the most important mediating processes to encourage self-actualization, positive job attitudes, performance, and a stronger organizational focus on sustainability and corporate social responsibility. The challenge of educating a committed citizenry is to change the societal and university paradigm from a strategy of competitiveness to one of collaboration, from a perspective of scarcity to one of sufficiency and inclusion, and from a search for expedient solutions to one that engages and commits to values and a way of life.

Servant leadership is inextricably linked with issues of character. Mannoia observes,

Admittedly, there are behaviors that are descriptive of servant leaders, but they occur as a result of what the person has become. Anything less cheapens the depth and significance of servant leadership which is a call first to be a servant. Because we always behave out of who we rare, it is natural that a servant will exhibit servant leadership skills. The true power of servant leadership is ultimately found in the inner being of the leader. (Mannoia 2012, p. 34)

Ultimately, Mannoia asserts, “Servant leadership is much more than merely a style of leadership. It is a description of the leader him/herself” (p. 34).

Mannoia uses the metaphor of an iceberg to depict leadership: The part of the iceberg that stands above the water is likened to leadership activities, and the consequent effect of these activities on the surrounding context. He argues that the visible part of the iceberg is stabilized by the structure of the unseen part hidden underwater. Similarly, the visible expressions of a leader’s activity are dependent upon and a natural extension of the character of the leader. Page and Wong (2003) describe the servant leader’s character and being in terms of the independent variables of integrity, humility, and servanthood. Integrity, humility, and servanthood within the heart of the leader make up the force by which the leader is able to overcome ego and a self-serving agenda in order to value serving people first.

Consequently, “Servant leadership is not so much a style of leadership as it is a condition of the leader” (Mannoia 2012, p. 34). Mannoia concludes,

Putting the “servant” back in “servant leadership” means more than doing greater acts of service for others in fulfilling our leadership responsibility. It means shaping the character of the leader with identity questions that will transform the leader into a servant in very nature. The resulting activities of leadership, irrespective of the style of leadership they use, will be motivated by the servant identity. (p. 34)

The locus of the leader’s identity is vitally important. Mannoia rejects self-interest, others or even organizational interest as deficient. He asserts,

What makes them a servant is the fact that they are acting as a servant of God, compelled by a God-given vocation in fulfilling a God-given destiny. . . . So, while we may perform service for people, we are not their servants. A servant leader is a servant to One. (Mannoia 2012, p. 36)


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