Servant Leader redux

kinnon —  August 11, 2005 — Leave a comment

Trevor, from Servant Leadership Blog dropped me a email about my recent posts on Servant Leadership (here and here). Trevor’s blog is part of the Servant Leadership MA program at Viterbo University in Wisconsin.

One of Trevor’s posts pointed at this good post on Servant Leaders and Servant Followers at Tom Lutz’s blog. I particularly like Tom’s comments here:

The leadership style of many of today’s “leaders” seems to be built on the assumption that the best way to get things done within an organization is to keep subordinates off balance. The theory seems to be that if there is fear in the “system” people will stay on their toes and do their best work. Accomplishing this mind bending technique is simple. All the leader has to do is intermittently be disrespectful to subordinates: don’t acknowledge them, don’t accept them, and don’t show respect for what they do; not all the time, mind you, but just enough to keep them guessing. It is controlling behavior and is the antithesis of good leadership.

That we give trashy leaders a pass on this behavior is not surprising. We, as a society, have been doing that for years. We succumb to this type of treatment since for many of us that is all we have known in the workplace. After all, he is the boss. Might makes right, we have been told. You do what they say and like it. Right? That’s the way traditional work society has programmed us; however, doing your job in that kind of environment is a terrible way to work. If you have never worked in an atmosphere of respect and decency, you may not realize that doing good work can be fun; that going to work everyday does not have to resemble cleaning stables in a barn.

Tom goes on to suggest that one of the ways to help counter and begin to change this kind of leader is to become a servant follower. I’m not sure I share his hope in the efficacy of his suggestions. However, perhaps he will change my mind as he promises to unpack his thoughts further in later posts.

Tom’s blog is definitely worth visiting and I’ve added him to the Leadership section of my Sage RSS reader – as well as to the Leadership List on this blog.



A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

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