I was just recently introduced to John Sullivan, a retired Marine and business prof at Montreat College. John has done some intensive study in the nature of servant leadership.
Lately, John has been working in east Africa with pastors to help develop their ability to better serve their congregations. It is fascinating to hear him talk about this cross-cultural leadership experience.
My impression is that John has taken the concept of servant leadership as formulated by Robert Greenleaf and brought not only a more definitive biblical/theological dimension to it, but also a more systematic approach to incorporating it into the leadership function of organizations.
John has written a book, Servant First! Leadership for the New Millenium, that both analyzes Greenleaf's perspective and outlines servant leadership as identified in the life, ministry and relationships of Jesus Christ. It is an ideal book for pastors and Sessions to use to discuss the nature of their relationship as leaders, and as leaders to their congregation.
I personally have been a believer in the servant leadership ideal since the 1980s. However, I felt that most of what passed for theory in servant leadership circles lacked something. It had the right perspective, but it wasn't rigourous enough. It was too limited to just an attitude of the leader, instead of how the leader organizes his or her work, team and organization.
I sat the other day and asked John his thoughts about servant leadership. In particular, I asked him whether a servant leadership could be the basis for the structural design of a business or a church. He felt that it could and pointed me to the example of Christ as a leader. I felt that the conversation about systematizing servant leadership throughout an organization is one we will continue to have.
From my perspective, my systematiztion, I mean that the organizational structure, the roles and responsibilities of the board, the executive leadership, the staff, volunteers are defined and measured according to this philosophy.
Measurement of servant leadership is what I want to see. How do you measure it? I don't know. But I want to know and believe that John Sullivan is going to help come to understand how. Stand tuned to this blog to see where this conversation goes.
Finally, John offers seminars for groups, especially churches. I recommend that you allow him to help your leadership team learn how to be servants first and leaders second.