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Servant Leadership

Critical Element Paper #2 Presented to the Department of Educational Leadership and Postsecondary Education University of Northern Iowa

In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Advanced Studies Certificate

by Kelly K. Westley Waterloo, IA June 16, 2012

Dr. Charles McNulty

Servant Leadership Greenleaf (1970) describes this type of leadership as, “the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first” (Greenleaf, 1970). Those who utilize this leadership style work to serve their subjects (employees). A servant leader helps her employees grow and develop. Her top priority is to make sure her employee’s needs are being met. Servant leaders promote growth, health, autonomy and teamwork. There are many leaders who promote the concept of servant leaders; Stephen Covey, Margaret Wheatley and Ken Blanchard just to name a few. Major Tenets of Servant Leadership There are a number of characteristic identified in relationship with servant leadership. First, is listening. A servant leader must be willing and able to listen to her employees. This characteristic is supported by Stephen Covey’s habit, “seek first to understand, then to be understood” (Covey, 2004, p. 235). Listening to your staff allows you the ability to build relationships and promote a workplace of shared decision making. Another characteristic connected with servant leadership is awareness. A leader of service has what McCrell refers to as situational awareness. She is aware of the smallest disruption in her workforce and able to make quick decisions to remedy disorder. With awareness come foresight, again related to Covey’s habit of “beginning with the end in mind” (Covey, 2004, p. 96) and also being proactive (Covey, 2004, p. 66). Empathy is another tenet of servant leadership, this characteristic couples with building community within your organization. A servant leader should build empathy within her organization as well as display empathy when the need arises. Promoting stewardship among

staff through modeled behavior is another tenet of servant leadership, stewardship to bettering society as a whole by determining the needs of others. The final major tenet of becoming a leader of service is promoting growth within your staff. Not only should leaders of service be committed to professional growth they should also promote personal growth within their workforce, “sharpen the saw” (Covey, 2004. p. 287). ISSL Connections There are many ISSL connections to be made when analyzing the characteristics of servant leadership. First, the idea of beginning with the end in mind related to ISSL one, shared vision (Covey, 2004). A strong leader is able to share her vision with those around her so everyone knows what they are working towards. A servant leader would be cognoscente to include her workforce in developing the vision for the future. ISSL one states the leader will, with collaboration of others, create concrete and rigorous goals as well as communicate those goals effectively to stakeholders. Connections can also be made to ISSL two and three by providing employees with a safe and organized environment conducive for learning. A leader of service would do this by listening and being empathetic with staff. Furthermore, they would create a strong workforce by building capacity and allowing staff to work on their professional as well as personal goals. A servant leader would promote interdependence among staff and empower them to meet one another’s needs in the workplace. Also, Covey’s (2004) habit “think win-win” exploring outcomes for problems that leave all stakeholders happy in the end will create a positive work environment (p. 204). All of these themes from servant leadership connect with ISSL’s two and three.

The characteristics described above also support ISSL four’s collaboration. Although the ISSL standard refers to family and community, this can also be applied to servant leadership and sharpening the saw. Allowing opportunities for staff to interact with each other’s families as well as understanding the importance of family in your role as a teacher (worker). Finally, servant leadership strongly connects with ISSL five, ethical leadership. A servant leader is one who is a pillar in the community. This person puts others before herself. One who demonstrates this standard is described as a person who has “values, beliefs and attitudes that inspire others to higher performance” (ISSL Standards). A leader of service would do this. Furthermore, the standard describes a leader who is respectful of divergent opinions, as servant leaders are able to listen with empathy they would demonstrate proficiency in this standard. A leader of service would be a model for ethical leadership. Research A number of studies have been conducted to determine the advantages of servant leadership. One study conducted in Turkey found a positive relationship between servant leadership behaviors of school principals and teachers' job satisfaction (Cerit, 2009). Another study marked a positive correlation between servant leadership and school climate (Black, 2010). Yet another study found servant leadership to be among three antecedents to a team’s effectiveness and potency and organizational citizenship behavior (Hu & Liden, 2011). A final study confirming the effectives of servant leadership studied the dimensions of four different principals in transforming low performing middle schools. The first theme recognized by researchers found these principals shared an awareness of self and others, which is connected to Greenleaf’s idea of situational awareness (Hunter-Heaston, 2010).

Conclusions In closing, servant leadership is an extremely important component in becoming an effective school leader. I will utilize Greenleaf and Covey’s beliefs about characteristics of servant leaders when developing my leadership philosophy. Overall, I belief servant leaders promote a healthy workplace for their staff as well as themselves. This is critical in the realm of education with the high demands put on educators today. Servant leaders build capacity in their workers to they can create the most productive work environment, which is what we need in education today.

References Black, G. (2010). Correlational analysis of servant leadership and school climate. Catholic Education: A Journal of Inquiry and Practice, 13(4), 437-466. Cerit, Y. (2009). The effects of servant leadership behaviours of school principals on teachers' job satisfaction. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 37(5), 600-623. Covey, S. R. (2004). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. New York, NY: Free Press Greenleaf, R. K. (1970). The Servant as Leader. Westfield, IN: The Robert K. Greenleaf Center Hu, J., Liden, R. (2011). Antecedents of team potency and team effectiveness: An examination of goal and process clarity and servant leadership. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96(4), 851-862. Hunter-Heaston, T. (2010). The voices of four principals: An exploration of the four dimensions of leadership as used by middle school leaders in transforming low performing schools into schools that meet and/or exceed local, state, and national standards. ProQuest LLC.