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Robert Greenleaf

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“Twelve ministers and theologians of all faiths and twelve psychiatrists of all faiths had convened for a two-day off-the-record seminar on the one-word theme of healing,” Robert Greenleaf writes in The Servant as Leader. The Chairman, a psychiatrist, began the seminar by saying, “We are all healers, whether we are ministers or doctors. Why are we in this business? What is our motivation?” “There followed only ten minutes of intense discussion and they were all…

If there were any.   “Many otherwise able people are disqualified to lead because they cannot work with and through the half-people who are all there are,” writes Robert Greenleaf in The Servant as Leader, his powerful book about leadership. “It is part of the enigma of human nature that the ‘typical’ person—immature, stumbling, inept, lazy is capable of great dedication and heroism if he or she is wisely led.” To build a high-performing organization, we…

What is the trouble with coercive power? It only strengthens resistance, Robert Greenleaf writes in The Servant as Leader. “And, if successful, its controlling effect lasts only as long as the force is strong.” There is a better way. Persuasion. Robert shares the story of John Woolman, an American Quaker, who was alive at the time of the American Revolution.  Not many know the story of John Woolman. But we should as he almost singlehandedly rid…

We previously looked at the importance of learning to withdraw periodically so we can show up at our best. Today we look at a second type of withdrawal which gives us the ability to compose ourselves in the moment. “The cultivation of awareness gives one the basis for detachment, the ability to stand aside and see oneself in perspective in the context of one’s own experience, amidst the ever present dangers, threats, and alarms,” writes Robert…

“Stress is a condition of most of modern life,” Robert Greenleaf writes in The Servant as Leader. This reality is especially true for us as servant leaders going out ahead, showing the way, and carrying the burdens of other people. Those of us who aspire to be leaders fall into one of two camps, Robert tells us. There are those of us who enjoy pressure. We may even seek it out because we know we perform best…

So, when does communication actually occur? Many of us assume communication happens when we speak. For important conversations, we often spend time preparing so we can say exactly what it is we want to say. We write it down. We rehearse. But communication doesn’t happen when we talk. Communication happens when the other person receives and makes meaning of what has been communicated. “Nothing is meaningful until it is related to the hearer’s own experience,” Robert…

We are about to enter a confrontation.  What is our mindset?   Is our basic attitude of one seeking to understand? A new leader had recently been named head of a large, important and difficult-to-administer public institution.  After a short time in the role, he realized things weren’t going well.  He decided to do an experiment, Robert Greenleaf shares in The Servant as Leader.   For three months, he stopped reading or watching the news. Instead, he relied…

How do we become better leaders? How do we become better servant leaders? Specifically. What skills do we need to develop? What do we need to focus on? Those are the questions we are exploring this week as we look at the key lessons from The Servant as Leader by Robert Greenleaf. One key element of leadership is foresight. “A mark of a leader, an attribute that puts them in a position to show the way for others,…

“Most of us move about with very narrow perception, sight, sound, smell, tactile and we miss most of the grandeur that is in the minutest thing, the smallest experience,” writes Robert Greenleaf in The Servant as Leader. We also miss leadership opportunities. “A qualification for leadership,” Robert writes, “is that one can tolerate a sustained wide span of awareness so that [we] better see it as it is.'” So far this week we’ve explored how going…

As servant leaders, what is the relationship between taking action and building trust? This week we are looking at key learnings from Robert Greenleaf’s seminal work on leadership The Servant as Leader.  Yesterday we looked at the primacy of initiative: everything begins with the initiative of the individual.  Leadership is about going out ahead and showing the way. He or she says, “I will go, follow me!” when we know the path is uncertain, even dangerous, writes…

“Who is responsible for the mediocre performance of so many of our institutions?” Robert Greenleaf asks in The Servant as Leader. His answer is surprising. “Not evil people. Not stupid people. Not apathetic people. Not the “system,’” Robert writes. “The better society will come, if it comes, with plenty of evil, stupid, apathetic people around and with an imperfect, ponderous, inertia-charged “system” as the vehicle for change.” The real reason for the mediocre performance? Too many…