EmptyShelf Challenge: Book 4


Book 4 in the #EmptyShelf Challenge is done. I am looking at my large stacks of unread books, anxious to choose book 5. See my original article on this topic to learn about the #EmptyShelf Challenge. Here is my summary of Servant Leadership.

Title: Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness
Author: Robert K. Greenleaf
Publisher: Paulist Press (1977)

What the book is about

Servant leadership as a theory of leadership really got its start with this book. In this book, Greenleaf presents the ideal of servant leadership and how institutions (schools, churches, health and social services, governments, and more) can implement those ideals to create a better society.

Why I read this book

Servant Leadership is regarded as a classic, and I must confess to not having read it previously, even though I have studied leadership for many years now. I am also researching the theory to help write a seminar on servant leadership.

Favorite idea

This is more than a “favorite idea.” The following idea struck me to my core. Greenleaf defines love as “unlimited liability” and explains that “as soon as one’s liability for another is qualified to any degree, love is diminished by that much.”1 We must recognize that ultimately, only God can love this way. This was demonstrated in the sacrifice of His Son on a cross. He paid the unlimited price of death to pay the liability of our sin. As a Christ follower my goal is to emulate this more each day (although I fail miserably). No wonder Christ is often called the ultimate servant leader.

Do I recommend this book?

Every serious student of leadership needs to read this book. However, you should know that the book actually says more about Greenleaf’s convictions regarding the role of institutions in our society, how they have failed at their respective mandates, and how they can be reshaped to be great once again, presumably through servant leadership.

Dr. Scott Yorkovich is a leadership coach and consultant. He works with individuals, small and medium organizations, and ministries. Contact him at ScottYorkovich[at]LeadStrategic.com with your questions.

1: Greenleaf, Robert K. Servant Leadership. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1977, p. 52.

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