Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society?The best test, and difficult to administer, is: do those served grow as persons; do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?
Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.
The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people's highest priority needs are being served.
While traditional leadership is about the accumulating, hoarding and exercising (which often degenerates into abusing) of power by the one at the “top of the pyramid,” servant leadership is about sharing power with your team, identifying, prioritising and meeting of others and helping people develop and perform as highly as possible.
It must be highlighted that in saying “the servant-leader is servant first” Greenleaf didn’t mean that the servant-leader should be submissive but rather that they should genuinely want to serve, to help others.
Greenleaf's leap to Servant Leadership is an example of lateral thinking at its best.
Before he retired from AT&T in 1964 he was well-known for his creative connections and intuition, using literary material in leadership development programs, for example, and bringing philosophers, psychologists, and theologians in to converse with executives.
Servant-leaders may or may not hold formal leadership positions.
Servant-leadership encourages collaboration, trust, foresight, listening, and the ethical use of power and empowerment. Greenleaf (1904-1990) coined the term in a short essay entitled: "The Servant As Leader".
Numerous articles, books, conferences, and journals have sprung from Greenleaf's deep thinking waters. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership in Indianapolis, Indiana — which was founded by Greenleaf in 1964 as the nonprofit Center for Applied Ethics — an entire movement devoted to exploring Servant Leadership, building out its theory, and implementing it in organizations has grown.
Servant-Leadership is a practical altruistic philosophy which supports people who choose to serve first, and then lead as a way of expanding service to individuals and institutions.