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Running head: SERVANT APPROACH TO LEADERSHIP

Servant Approach to Leadership


Rogelio Nava Jr.
Concordia University Texas

SERVANT APPROACH TO LEADERSHIP

Servant Approach to Leadership


In his text Leadership Theory and Practice, author Peter Northouse describes the
servant approach to leadership as being paradoxical in nature. This approach to leadership takes
on a seemingly contradictory approach in that servant leaders lead their followers towards
serving the best interest of the organization, community, and society at large. Servant leaders at
their core are attentive to the concerns of their followers, empathize with them, and nurture
them (pg. 219). The servant approach to leadership is follower-centric because these leaders are
genuinely interested in helping develop their followers full personal capacities. Northouse also
points out that the ability to be a servant leader is typically viewed as a trait but is more of a
behavior that can be learned and strengthened.
The first strength Northouse discusses deals with the altruistic nature of servant
leadership. This follower-centered approach encourages leaders to treat followers as equals,
develop their personal capacities, help them achieve their goals, and genuinely care for their
wants and needs. The personable behaviors exhibited by servant leaders results in an optimistic
work environment, increased productivity, and in turn has a positive impact on the nature of
society in general. A second strength discussed relates to the ability of this approach to flip
traditionally held beliefs and expectations about what leadership is on its head. Because this
approach is follower focused, leaders share control and influence with subordinates. This
nontraditional approach affords followers a platform to develop their own personal abilities and
provide input on important matters that concern them. The relaxed nature of servant leadership
allows for a level of fluidity in application not found in other approaches. This third strength
allows the servant approach to leadership the flexibility to be applied only when begged for by a
particular situation or context. The final strength Northouse lists highlights the efficacy of the

SERVANT APPROACH TO LEADERSHIP

quantitative measure of this approach despite its qualitative nature. The Servant Leadership
Questionnaire has been thoroughly researched and was found to be a quality tool for measuring
servant leadership success.
In terms of the criticisms this approach has received, one is that the name servant
leadership stands in stark contrast to widely held notions held of leadership itself. Initial
reactions to hearing the term servant leadership can lead many to experience confusion as the
title sounds like an oxymoron. Essentially the title servant leadership can at times stunt or limit
the general understanding of the approach. A second criticism maintains that until further
research is conducted as to the definition or theoretical framework for servant leadership,
scholars will continue to debate the core dimensions of this approach. The third criticism for this
approach highlights the seemingly out of place position servant leadership takes as it stands in
stark contrast to the individualistic and autonomous nature of our society.

SERVANT APPROACH TO LEADERSHIP


Works Cited
Northouse, P. G. (2013). Leadership: Theory and practice (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks: SAGE.