“The Servant as Leader”, Written by Robert K Greenleaf

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The overall message that Greenleaf Servant Leadership sends out to followers is intrinsically a modernised, diluted version of the Old Testament. This idea is perfectly epitomised by Greenleaf Servant Leadership’s key message that, “The servant-leader is servant first”, this statement which features in the opening passage of Robert K Greenleaf’s esteemed essay has all the hallmarks and bearings of archetypal biblical scripture, for example, in the bible in the passage, Luke 22:26, it states that, “rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves”. These similarities within the realm of servitude prove whole heartedly that the basis for Greenleaf Servant Leadership is to put others before yourself and to ensure that other’s needs are catered to before your own, this striking resemblance to the passage, Luke 22:26 sends the exact same message about putting other’s before yourself to ensure greatness in servitude.

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One of the main differences between Greenleaf Servant Leadership and the Bible is that the Bible does not have an air of militant leadership about it. Greenleaf Servant Leadership is more of a philosophical leadership style, whereas the Bible is quite literally a physical, spiritual accoutrement of a well-established religion, Christianity. Peter 5:3, states that “not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock”. This message is the polar opposite to what Greenleaf says are the fundamentals to his society, when Greenleaf says, “some servant leadership-based outcomes, like profits and retention – that are not difficult to measure (incidentally, research shows that both markers are improved in servant-led organisations”. It is apparent from Greenleaf’s statement that his society, which has all the hallmarks of a right wing Cult, has an unhealthy obsession with growth, which could be perceived as being overly concerned with monetary gain, this is something which the Bible does not preach. This is an example of how innately different the two organisations are; For example, Acts 20:35 states, “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” “. This classic example highlights and reiterates how the Bible has an overwhelming penchant for assisting those in need and those in poverty, unlike Greenleaf’s philosophical militia that his followers need to allow him to be their servant for them to prosper.

To draw the readers attention to a passage in the Bible, specifically Matthew 20:20-28, Matthew states, “Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Contrary to what was just stated above, it does appear that elements of Greenleaf’s esteemed essay have their grassroots in the Bible, as Matthew’s mention of serving others, to become great is not too dissimilar from Greenleaf’s archetypal tagline, servant first. But alas, according to Greenleaf himself, Greenleaf Servant Leadership, is not based on the Bible at all, Greenleaf took his inspiration from a book he read, titled: Journey to the East. According to Andrey V.Shirin, “this is a story about a group of people on a journey, and the central figure is Leo, who does menial chores and sustains the group with his songs and spirit. All goes well until Leo disappears, the group unravels and the journey is abandoned. After some years the author finds out that Leo is the leader of the Order that sponsored the journey. Thus Leo is both a servant and a leader.”

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"The Servant As Leader", written by Robert K Greenleaf. (2019, Oct 10). Retrieved February 6, 2023 , from

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