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Servant Leadership "Must-Read"
on August 21, 2006
James Autry's (2001) book is essential reading for the servant-leader and servant-led who are looking for practical tools to change organizational culture. The book was arranged in four major sections: "A Foundation of Character and Vision" (pp. 1-36); Servant as Manager: The Everyday Nuts and Bolts" (pp. 37-98); The Harsh Realities of Organizational Life" (pp. 99-154); and "Finding the Balance" (pp. 155-240).
His main contribution to servant-leadership is threefold: (a) he rightly points out the famous proverb about managers doing things right and leaders doing the right things is not a prescription that recommends leaders to think only of the forest and not the trees; "instead, it is meant to define what a manager must move beyond (focusing on how to do) in order to become a leader (focusing on what to do and how to be" (pp. 37-38); (b) as an organizational leader with deep experience, he does not shy away from discussing the harder aspects of organizational life--he is an effective counterweight for some of the Pollyannaish literature; and (c) as an experienced organizational leader, he provides some management and leadership technologies and understandings that the theorist alone cannot.
"Because this concept of serving others is an essential part of what I believe about leadership, let me offer you a list of six things I believe about leadership:
1. Leadership is not about controlling people; it's about caring for people and being a useful resource for people.
2. Leadership is not about being boss; it's about being present for people and building a community at work.
3. Leadership is not about holding on to territory; it's about letting go of your ego, bringing your spirit to work, being your best and most authentic self.
4. Leadership is less concerned with pep talks and more concerned with creating a place in which people can do good work, can find meaning in their work, and can bring their spirits to work.
5. Leadership, like life, is largely a matter of paying attention.
6. Leadership requires love." (pp. 20-21).