The phrase ‘servant leadership’ was first coined by Robert Greenleaf in the early ’70s. The concept is pretty simple. A servant leader puts others’ needs ahead of themselves and actively looks for ways to help them shine, grow and accomplish. The opposite of top-down or do-as-I-tell, servant leaders thrive when those around them grow. There is little room for ego in servant leadership; only a relentless focus on strengthening and empowering those you are with.

Greenleaf’s writings and concepts have inspired countless of other writers to embrace this philosophy. The Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership is the official home for Greenleaf’s original writing and has since grown in scale and scope. Learn more about the man and his passions for “A better society, one that is more just and more loving, one that provides greater creative opportunity for its people” here.

I’m working hard at being a lifelong learner of what Servant Leadership is and how we can use it as a force of good. These writers have been instrumental to my learning and I hope will be to yours as well.

Servant Leadership books I’d recommend 

  • Give and Take by Adam Grant. 
    • Why you should read it: A thoughtful and easy read with proof that givers can win!
  • EGO is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
    • Why you should read it: The title says it all. Get out of your own way to be a success.
  • Trust by David Johnson
    • Why you should read it: We can’t serve one another until we trust one another.
  • The Power of Kindness by Brian Goldman 
    • Why you should read it: Goldman shares his personal struggle with what being ‘kind’ means as a father, son and physician.
  • Barking Up The Wrong Tree by Eric Barker
    • Why you should read it: More scientific proof kindness pays off!
  • Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott
    • Why you should read it: Servant Leadership isn’t about being a wallflower. It’s about encouraging others to be the best they can be. A courageous conversation can be a powerful way to help them get there.

Books I’m looking forward to reading

  • Epiphany by Michael Coren
    • Why I want to read it: Coren’s journey while not about servant leadership directly is an example of why thinking about others is good for ourselves AND them.

Online articles

  • The Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership is the official home for Greenleaf’s original writing and has since grown in scale and scope. Learn more about the man and his passions for “A better society, one that is more just and more loving, one that provides greater creative opportunity for its people”.
  • A post by Vijay Eswaran about the 5 C’s of servant leadership. | 4 min read
  • A 2017 post on Forbes.com about easy ways you can add servant leadership to your day to day at work | 3 min read
  • An excellent overview of Servant Leadership and Greenleaf’s 10 principals | 7 min read
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