July 14 is the anniversary of Robert K. Greenleaf’s birth. Born in Terre Haute, Indiana in 1904, Greenleaf, the father of modern servant leadership, set forth a counter-cultural perspective on leadership from his days at AT&T until his passing in 1990 that has a growing influence today.
In celebration of his birthday and the profound impact he made and continues to make on the field of leadership, I offer his pwn words to support and inspire you.
“Ego can’t sleep. It micro-manages. It disempowers. It reduces our capability. It excels in control.”
“Good leaders must first become good servants.”
“Ego focuses on one’s own survival, pleasure, and enhancement to the exclusion of others; ego is selfishly ambitious. It sees relationships in terms of threat or no threat, like little children who classify all people as “nice” or “mean.” Conscience, on the other hand, both democratizes and elevates ego to a larger sense of the group, the whole, the community, the greater good. It sees life in terms of service and contribution, in terms of others’ security and fulfillment.”
“The work exists for the person as much as the person exists for the work.”
“Many attempts to communicate are nullified by saying too much.”
“Where there is not community, trust, respect, ethical behavior are difficult for the young to learn and for the old to maintain.”
“Moral authority is another way to define servant leadership because it represents a reciprocal choice between leader and follower. If the leader is principle centered, he or she will develop moral authority. If the follower is principle centered, he or she will follow the leader. In this sense, both leaders and followers are followers. Why? They follow truth. They follow natural law. They follow principles. They follow a common, agreed-upon vision. They share values. They grow to trust one another.”
Happy Birthday Mr. Greenleaf!