People often see leadership based on an “It’s all about me” mentality. Organizations reward with increasing levels of money, recognition, and power as an individual moves up the hierarchy. Self-promotion (actually, pride) and self-protection (actually, fear) dominate today’s leadership style.
Many traditional leaders allow pride, fear, and indifference to undermine mutual respect, loving care, self-sacrifice and openness. That’s a problem. The solution? Servant leadership.
Servant leadership is a leadership philosophy in which the leader’s goal is to serve, which is different from traditional leadership where the leader’s first focus is the organization – and all too often, themselves. A servant leader shares power, puts the needs of the employees first and helps people develop for them to perform to their highest potential. Servant leadership inverts the norm. Instead of the people working to serve the leader, the leader exists to serve the people.
As stated by its founder, Robert K. Greenleaf, a servant leader should be focused on, “Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?” When leaders shift their mindset and serve first, they benefit, and their employees in that their employees acquire personal growth. At the same time, the organization grows due to the employees’ growing commitment and engagement.
According to Sen Sendjaya and James C Sarros, servant leadership is practiced in some top-ranking companies and confirms that servant leaders lead others to go beyond the call of duty.
Traditional Leaders vs. Servant Leaders
Speaks vs. Listens
Believes it’s about them vs. Believes it’s about the people
Sees leadership as a rank to obtain vs. Sees leadership as an opportunity to serve others
Measures success through output vs. Measures success through growth and development
Uses power to drive performance vs. Shares power to drive engagement
Linda MacDonald, Chief Operations Officer at Avanir Pharmaceuticals
Based in Orange County, CA, Linda MacDonald is a philanthropist and COO at Avanir Pharmaceuticals. She was introduced to North Korean humanitarianism by her cousin when he became a missionary decades ago, and she has remained involved in the field to this day. One cause she is especially passionate about is organizations that support North Korean refugee care and integration. As her parents escaped North Korea after being persecuted for their religious beliefs, Linda is acutely aware of the responsibility and privilege of aiding those like her family. She is an alumni of The Ohio State University and Stanford Graduate School of Business.