Transformation and Servant Leadership

A lot has been published lately in regards to servant leadership. The origin I believe was the original book on the subject by Greenleaf. It basically states that acting in service to others is the underpinning of a great leader. This is the central idea from which a great leader does their work. What this usually requires is that the individual go through a transformation. Most people today in all cultures see themselves as the ones to receive the services (entitlement) and as individuals whose rights need to be protected. The recent story of the health care worker returning from an ebola infested region of Africa and being asked to remain in quarantine is an example of this phenomena. The worker refused as it was her ‘individual right’ not to be quarantined. Even if it was only a precautionary request she did not hold herself accountable from a ‘service perspective’ to abide by the governmental request. So while she is a health care worker, who professes to work in the service of others, she put her ‘individual rights’ above all others because she ‘knows better’. For this worker to be a servant leader would require a transformation of her foundational value of service to others. Once physicians held out the idea of ‘first do no harm’. This is a servant leader concept. Under the mind set of our health care worker it would read, ‘first do not harm as long as it does not affect my individual rights to do whatever I want to do based on my own judgement of the situation’. In other words I know better and I will always put my own self interests in front of all others. This is a selfish rather than a selfless point of view and lacks all features of any leadership qualities. To transform this point of view would be to move the world.

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