Servant Leadership in Robert Greenleaf’s Perception

Many renowned companies and faith-based agencies have succeeded in their lines of business by upholding the concept of servant leadership. In addition to presenting this concept as a collective responsibility, servant-leaders acknowledge the need for prioritizing their followers’ demands and working closely with them to develop the underlying leadership potential and capacity to serve effectively. Although many scholars have examined the issue of servant leadership and its impact on followers, perspectives presented by Robert Greenleaf and Christian clergies prove that power is indeed developed through one’s continued dedication to serving others.

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Greenleaf and Christianity

Christian beliefs and Greenleaf’s ideas regarding servant leadership have played a huge role in calling people to serve others. In the late 1970s, Greenleaf introduced a practical framework that encouraged all leaders to justify their call to leadership by first showing the desire to serve their followers (Drake, 2013). This model led to the concept of servant leadership, which he depicted as arising from a natural sensation of wanting to serve people. Various scriptures, including Mathew 20 verse 26 and John 12 verse 26, depict Jesus encouraging His disciples to serve all people without prejudice. He calls His followers to serve by illustrating what servant leadership implies. In particular, verse 28 of Mathew 20 depicts Jesus’ key mission of serving humanity. Further, the Bible presents many examples of people who practiced servant leadership, including Moses, Joseph, and Paul.

When people are called to serve as leaders, they experience a feeling of contentment, especially when they realize that the leadership approaches deployed emphasize their followers’ welfare. Leaders are usually vision careers whose contribution in the form of service is aimed at achieving some stipulated goals. Hence, when such objectives are met within the set timeframe or as anticipated, they regard themselves as achievers.

The Origin of Power

Greenleaf’s perception of power is in line with Biblical perspectives. These two schools of thought present power as developed by sharing it with others or demonstrating the willingness to serve people diligently. In particular, for Greenleaf, “serving first” indicates his conviction that leaders can only perform effectively if they begin by operating as servants (Drake, 2013). From the Biblical viewpoint, the example given in John 13 verses 3 to 17 depicts Jesus putting Himself in a position of serving His followers first. Greenleaf and Jesus confirm that leadership comes by giving it away and prioritizing the interests of one’s followers (Servant leadership – serve to be great, 2015). Services undertaken by these two leaders have played a central role in molding them to become the great people the world knows today.

Matthew 20: 20-28 and Greenleaf’s Principles of Servant Leadership

From the ideas presented in Mathew 20: 20-28 and Greenleaf’s concepts, it is apparent that taking the position of serving others can contribute significantly to shaping one’s leadership potential. Greenleaf was convinced that he could not realize his full potential as a leader by embracing the authority-oriented authoritarian leadership practiced in America (Hess, 2013). For example, his resignation in the early 1960s to establish organizations such as the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, which sought to develop other people’s administrative expertise, helped to develop the desire to serve people. Although he died almost three decades ago, he is acknowledged as a servant leader who led by nurturing his followers to advance their leadership capabilities. Moreover, from the example given in Mathew 20 verses 20-28, Jesus conversation with the mother of Zebedee’s children depict Him as a servant leader who prioritizes the interests of other people. Hence, in all His interactions with people, one can conclude that He developed His greatness from His service to others.


Present-day institutions, including religious organizations, recognize the impact of leadership on their daily operations. For Greenleaf, servant leadership is founded on the need for ensuring that followers gain considerably from their leaders’ input. From a Christian perspective, Jesus seems to have known and practiced the same idea of servant leadership. This paper has presented various examples to substantiate that leadership is developed from serving others.


Drake, S. (2013). Why Wawa’s CEO serves first and leads second. Web.

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Hess, E. (2013). Servant leadership: A path to high performance. The Washington Post. Web.

Servant leadership – serve to be great. (2015). Web.

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