Servant Leadership

The group presentation Servant Leadership gave me an introduction this concept and  reinforced belief that traditional western leadership paradigms are not appropriate or useful for promoting an ethic of responsibility and care for others that will be required for the societies and cultures to peacefully co-exist and thrive

At the end of presentation we were asked- if this is so closely related to what already exists in Te Ao Maori, why not use use an indigenous paradigm? Indeed the research we read nicely summarised the resonances between indigenous and western concepts and the practice of “servant leadership”. I believe that in the New Zealand context that it is most appropriate to honour and reflect indigenous Maori and on our shores Te Ao Maori concepts and practices should take precedence.would strip other cultures of their

However, I am wary of subscribing to a hierarchy of legitimacy that (albeit unintentionally) accords a higher status or rank order to indigenous models over any other genuine attempts to make the world a better place. It serves no purpose to strip other cultures of their own explorations and expressions of servant leadership.

It is unfortunate that Robert Greenleaf is positioned by some as a ‘founding father’ of servant leadership, particularly as his writings emphasise that he was drawing on different philosophies and cultures that were not new. He showed himself as an authentic leader by owning that these ideas had only just entered his consciousness after retiring from his corporate career. Indeed he was known to say that ‘it may be that the best that some of today’s privileged can do is to stand aside and serve by helping when asked and instructed” but he was aware that “not many of today’s privileged may elect this course. But among them who see themselves as servants first may want to consider it as a possible best course for them” (p.19).

I think he was a pioneer in his own cultural context in terms of giving visibility to issues of ethics, care and community in management discourses.  As stated above, I believe that Maori model is appropriate and best for the New Zealand context. However, as a native-born US’er, I was pleased to have an example of a
Western thinker’s exploration and expression of servant leadership. One dead white guy who I think made a difference.  He appears to have been writing for his context/constituency and was transgressing boundaries in his society (that sadly still exist over 40 years after his initial writings were published). 

Unfortunately, Westerners have become increasingly disconnected from themselves to the point where many do not understand that they too have a culture.