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This research paper combines the studies of the this course weekly readings and information learned from the courses studies on servant leadership principles which help to empower employees, have a care and concern for employees well-being and an overall commitment buy leaders to make sure their team is effective and members grow. Through the biblical integration project and literature review this paper will discuss the characteristics of a servant leaders set based on the word of God and modeled and perfected through Jesus Christ. A servant leader must love and serve God, love others which helps the leader to serve them and fulfill their needs, have a vision and be able to communicate the vison, be humble and empower others are some of the characteristics of a servant leader that is led by Christ.
A leader interview was conducted with John Savercool a senior vice president with Verizon Communications; where during the interview Mr. Savercool shared his servant leadership philosophy. His philosophy on servant leadership is combined with Verizon Communications core values of Integrity, honesty and respect for all. Savercool’s viewpoints on servant leadership provided a real-world perspective and a segway to the literature review and the research for this paper. Savercool discusses the obstacles and issues that he experiences with using servant leadership because of the diverse and world-wide team he is responsible for in his leadership position. The lesson that will be learned is how true servant leadership comes from praying, reading scripture and being led by God.
Leadership Research Paper
The model for servant leadership is based on Jesus Christ and his works done here on earth through examples provided in the bible. The principles of servant leadership in modern day were founded by Robert Greenleaf however his beliefs were not based off of Jesus Christ. This paper will discuss the different characteristics needed for a servant leader to be effective and show others how Christ is within them by serving others first. Part 1 of this paper will first discuss some of the important findings from literature and results to create the principles of servant leadership behavior. Part 2 will discuss a leadership interview with John Savercool a senior vice president with Verizon Communications. Part 3 will do a comparison and contrast of things learned from the group discussions and the things learned from the literature review and the leadership interview. Once the reader is done with my paper they will have a better understand of servant leadership from a biblical perspective based off Jesus Christ and his teachings. Part 1 – Literature Review
The review of the literature has a mix of findings some of the findings go from biblical times to present day to create a model for servant leadership. With most models of leadership there has been several studies and research to measure if this model is effective. This review shows how servant leadership values have created a positive change within organizations and the behaviors of employees. The positives that servant leadership has created are the leader serves others, empowering and developing employees, and organizational vision. After completing the research there is a principles for servant leaders and their behavior. Serving Others
A servant leader is willing to be last to be the least to make sure others needs are met. A leader with a non-biblical servant leadership perspective in many cases worry about power, control, recognition and titles. According to Mueller (2011) “Servant Leadership is not about a personal quest for power, prestige, or material rewards. Instead, it begins with a true motivation to serve others.” Servant leaders following Christ do not worry about any of this stuff because they know that they will get eternal gain not the short term gain that people receive here on earth (Fischer, 2014). Organizations, have a shortage of the kind of leaders who can look beyond their interests to serve the needs of workers (Brumback, 1999).
According to Boden, (2014) “Each of us serves a portion of humanity. Everyone with whom we have any kind of contact-is to us humanity.” Caring and leading have traditionally are not thought of together for leaders (Cunningham, 2004). This portion of the literature review on serving others confirms Blanchard
and Hodges (2003) “effectiveness of a leader is dependent upon who they choose to follow.” Followers of Christ will put serving others first before serving themselves. Empowering and developing employees
A leaders does not hold back an employee because of jealousy or feel they are losing power because of the advancement of others (Ispas & Adriana, 2012). Empowerment is the commitment to the growth and development of people (van Dierendonck, 2011). Leaders grow internally by empowering them to make decisions and changes that improve an organization (Rodriguez, 2014). Servant leadership is validated by empowering and developing people with compassion and humbleness (Mittal & Dorfman, 2012). By empowering and developing employees this creates enthusiasm in the workplace and creates a good work environment (Stramba, 2003). This research confirms Blanchard and Hodges’s (2008) assertion that in order to lead like Jesus, leaders must place emphasis on growth and development. Organizational vision
Servant leadership originates with a clear and compelling vision of the future (Blanchard and Hodges, 2003). Leaders should get feedback from employees to be included in the organizational vision. Organizations benefit from understanding how leadership engages followers in day-to-day activities because the outcome of this act contributes to the organization’s ability to be effective (Savage-Austin & Honeycutt, 2011). Servant leaders inspire individuals to go beyond their own interests by performing organizational citizenship behaviors to enhance organizational performance (Ebener & O’Connell, 2010). Employees in the current job force have different expectations of the workplace than in the past (Stramba, 2003).
Because of these expectations leaders must include employees in the vision for the organization. Organizations must solicit constructive feedback from organizational members to measure the effectiveness of leadership practices and the impact of leadership methods (Savage-Austin & Honeycutt, 2011). Rather than be controlling a servant-leader works to build a solid foundation, with shared goals by listening and understanding the needs and concerns of others (Mueller, 2011). Blanchard and Hodges (2003), “what are the key values of the organization and how are they ranked” This is done by a servant leader with a vision led by God and feedback from employees. Principles of Servant Leadership Behavior
In the beginning there was initially criteria for servant leadership behavior established by Greenleaf were Listening, Empathy, Healing, Awareness, Persuasion, Conceptualization, Foresight, Stewardship, Commitment to the Growth of People, Building Community. Authors as Spears and more modern day van Dierendonck created listed for the characteristics of servant leadership. The characteristics Van Dierendonck listed six key characteristics: empowering and developing people, humility, authenticity, interpersonal acceptance, providing direction and stewardship. According to Spears (2004), the top three characteristics used to measure a leader’s level of servant leadership practice are listening, empathy, and healing. Vinod & Sudhakar (2011) found that a servant leader: serves God first, loves others, is nurturing and caring, practices humility, creates and implements a vision, and builds community. I compared the criteria by all groups and along with the criteria of Fischer (2014) to create a criteria below:
1. Loves and serves God first
2. Loves and serves others
3. Communicates and implement a vision
4. Empowers and develops people
5. Practices humility
6. Builds and practices community
7. Gives feedback and direction
8. Welcomes feedback and is accountable
Thus, the research affirms the Biblical view on servant leadership Matthew 20:26 says “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” Part 2 – Leadership Interview
In this section, the results of a leadership interview with John Savercool a senior vice president with Verizon Communications, he is located in Ashburn, Virginia. Savercool leads the public network which consists of government agencies and the Department of Defense customers. He has over 25 years of telecommunications experience with MCI and Verizon. He also served 6 years in the Army reserve and grew up as he titled a “military brat” because of the various locations in the United States and around the world that he lived growing up (J. Savercool, personal communication, July 28, 2014). His dad was a sergeant in the Army. Mr. Savercool has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Central Florida and a Masters of Business Administration degree from George Mason University. Perspective on Servant Leadership
John Savercool explained his perspective on servant leadership as “serving those within his organization through honest feedback between employees without fear and to make adjusts as possible to accommodate employees so that they can better serve Verizon customer’s internal and external” (J. Savercool, personal communication, July 28, 2014). Savercool believes that the best way to serve to others is to interact with them and have an open door policy to get feedback. He says often times mangers especially on his level of being directors and VPs do engage with employees and their management to see how they can be better served and what issues they have.
He also believes in a quality of life for employees his concerns run deeper than just tools an employee has at work but them as individuals overall. He believes in empowering people to make changes as necessary, because by empowering people it also creates a better work environment because people will believe they can make an impact and grow (J. Savercool, personal communication, July 28, 2014) Challenges of Applying Servant Leadership
During my interview Savercool discussed some of the challenges that he faces in applying servant leadership principles within his organization. First he has employees worldwide and of course some of them he does not have any interaction with and in other cases very limited interactions. For example he has employees in the Philippians but because of the culture differences he cannot empower employees the same as he can employees in the United States and he runs into issues of sexism and overall employee rights. In the United States he runs into issues with employees who are “union employees”. With union employees there are certain rights that are bargained and there are politics with empowering employees.
Some employees like to follow routines without change or having to go the extra mile of saying what changes they would like because they just want to do the basic and get paid (J. Savercool, personal communication, July 28, 2014). Another issue he runs into are those people who like to do only do things if it benefits them and shines the light on them. To overcome these issues Savercool stresses how he prays daily several times a day and ask God to lead him and guide him when dealing with the different personalities and cultures in his organization. Strategies to implement Servant Leadership
Savercool states one of the benefits of servant leadership is that because he serves others before himself those looking to shine and standout go the extra mile because they feel they are gaining the notoriety they are looking for. Also by involving all in the mission of the organization employees understand how important their roles is to the organizations mission. But empowerment makes employees attractive to new opportunities within and outside of the organization. Savercool believes that servant leadership is a style that should be used by all companies however he understands that is not always possible in every situation. Criteria of Servant Leadership Behavior
Savercool’s gauges an effective servant leader can be measured by combining his personal values with those of the Army and Verizon Values: Service to others before service to self. Savercool states “it’s not about me but it’s about those that work for me not just on the job but when they are not working. Things that happen outside of the office can have an effect on an employee’s performance more than things on the job sometimes “(J. Savercool, personal communication, July 28, 2014) Integrity!!! Integrity and I was to use exclamation marks on my paper. Integrity is something Savercool lives by and looks for all of his employees to have. He believes integrity suns deeper than the obvious and by the obvious he states “it is just not about robbing a bank or stealing.
It runs deeper how does one treat the other, being fair to all regardless of a personal relationship and overall day to day work. “(J. Savercool, personal communication, July 28, 2014) Excellence in all that is done. With there being other options for customers get service from Savercool wants excellence from his organization. He believes because of the steps that he has taken with the servant leadership model then his organization should be able to provide excellence not only external customers but to internal customers (J. Savercool, personal communication, July 28, 2014) In summary, John Savercool’s criteria for servant leadership is serving others and meeting their needs and not being selfish worrying about self-gain, Selfless Service, individual integrity, which leads to overall excellence (J. Savercool, personal communication, July 28, 2014).
Part 3 – Comparison and Contrast of Servant Leadership Perspectives In this section there will be a comparison and contrast of J. Savercool’s perspective on servant leadership with the literature review will be discussed. Also things that were discussed and learned from group discussions within group 2 about servant leadership will be compared and contrasted to findings discovered in the literature review and from J. Savercool’s perspectives. Comparison of J. Savercool’s Perspective to the Literature Comparison of J. Savercool’s Perspective to the Literature J. Savercool’s perspective on servant leadership is tied to the bible and the core values of the Army and Verizon. Savercool starts with serving others before himself, integrity and excellence. Servicing others before self are one of core principles found in servant leadership. His theory corresponds with the literature “Followers of Christ will put serving others first before serving themselves” (Blanchard and Hodges, 2003).
Mr. Savercool’s servant leadership is based off of his Christian views which is why he believes in serving others first which is confirmed in the bible with examples of Christ. Luke 22:27 says, “For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” J. Savercool’s other principles for servant leadership are based on the Army values of selfless service, and Army and Verizon values of integrity. Selfless service is based on teamwork and faith in the system. Faith in the system is servant leadership which empowers employees and caring about their overall wellbeing. These values compare with the literature and confirms Savercool’s thoughts, Blanchard and Hodges’s (2008) assertion that in order to lead like Jesus, leaders must place emphasis on growth and development.
Savercool temperament is one of humility and he looks for ways to uplift others through empowerment, listening, and nurturing. According to Vinod & Sudhakar (2011), servant leaders are listeners and have a nurturing and caring personality Comparison of Ideas to Lessons Learned from the Group Discussions Lessons learned from the group discussions culminated in a group research project by Slezak, et al. (2014) in which we compared and contrasted the views of a man-centered view of servant leadership found by Robert Greenleaf with the Biblical worldview. There was a good mix of the humanistic view compared to the biblical view. For the humanistic view Spears 1996 & van Dierendonck, 2011 where used and scriptures such as Philippians 2:3 and Romans 12:2.
The group not only used examples of Christ but servant leadership examples were provides using Apostle Paul and his writings to the Romans, where Paul stated, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2). Once again this is where the servant leadership model championed by Greenleaf differs from the biblical model. Spears (2004) noted that the transformational change in the Greenleaf approach was only for the greater good. The conversation around the biblical foundation for servant leadership begins with an assessment of the heart. The first of a key series of questions is, “Am I a leader; Am I willing to follow Jesus as my role model. Greenleaf’s theory on servant leadership can do some good within an organization and an individual(s) however the Christian version goes deeper because it starts with the heart.
To make any change and fully make a change or implement a plan ones heart and mind has to be right which Christ can only do. However the literature is mostly based off of theories of authors and do not include Christ in their theories which make them flawed since there is little to mention of servant leadership being Christ based. Blanchard and Hodges (2003) contend that it is then crucial to ask “Am I a servant leader or a self-serving leader?” Jesus cited examples of both servant and self-serving leaders speaking of the rulers of the Gentiles and of himself (Mark 10:42-45). Fischer (2010b) stated that the activity and actions of the servant leader are faith motivated. The most critical lesson that was learned through group discussions, team paperwork, the literature and interviews is that servant leadership is welcomed style of leadership within organizations.
However there is a major difference between Mr. Greenleaf’s servant leadership and a Christ lead servant leadership. The group choose serving God first, serving, and humility as the top three essentials for a servant leader. Just like with Greenleaf’s theory often times we see folks in the world have good ideas but they do not include Christ who should be first in all we do. 1 Corinthians 15:58 says “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” Conclusion
Servant leadership philosophies were established to have a positive impact on employees by serving employees, employee empowerment, and a commitment to a shared organizational vision. After reviewing the literature there was a criteria set for servant leadership behavior. The criteria is: 1. Loves and serves God first, 2. Loves and serves others, 3. Communicates and implement a vision, 4. Empowers and develops people, 5. Practices humility, 6. Builds and practices community, 7. Gives feedback and direction, 8. Welcomes feedback and is accountable. John Savercool shared his servant leadership perspective along with the values of the Army and Verizon Communications (1) Service to others before service to self. (2) Integrity (3) Excellence in all that is done.
He explained some of the changes he has from fully being able to make a difference with his servant leadership in the workplace because of the locations, culture and types of employees he has. The paper compared the leader interview with the literature and group discussions. A servant leader cannot truly be effective without first having God in them to make sure their heart and mind is right to be an effective leader. According to Blanchard and Hodges (2008) “Servant leaders honors God and his commandments.” Any leader who does this first will be able to be a successful servant leader.
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