Inspiring Leadership: Learning from Great Leaders

By John Adair | Go to book overview

THREE

The Servant-Leader

'Let the greatest
among you become
as the youngest, and
the leader as one
who serves.

JESUS OF NAZARETH

We are not accustomed to thinking of leaders as servants. We tend to emphasise position rather than responsibility. Leaders in our society are paid more than others; they enjoy the other rewards of privileges and status. Leadership stands for power and dominance over others. That is not unlike the pattern of leadership that Jesus saw both among the Gentiles and within Israel in his day: rulers who lorded it over their subjects, intent upon subservience and hungry for public recognition.

True, Socrates had identified the common element of service in all leadership, by insisting that the core responsibility of leaders is to meet human needs. Xenophon had found that it worked in practice. If you came down from your height — literally in the case of a mounted commander and metaphorically in that of a landowner — and worked among people, this action would inspire willing obedience. The Roman leaders who followed his example and teaching found that the same principle worked for them. Both Greeks and Romans were essentially pragmatists. By the exercise of practical reason, they sought to discover what works in leadership, and to a large measure they did so.

Jesus clothed much the same message with his religious authority. By so doing, however, he altered for all time the moral climate of leadership. The deepest flaw in leadership is usually arrogance. The root of arrogance

-37-

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Inspiring Leadership: Learning from Great Leaders
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Inspiring Leadership - Learning from Great Leaders *
  • Contents *
  • Introduction 1
  • Part 1 3
  • One - Leadership through Knowledge 4
  • Two - Leadership Skills 24
  • Three - The Servant-Leader 37
  • Four - The Ability to Give Direction 58
  • Five - Making the Right Decisions 77
  • Six - The Art of Inspiring While Informing 108
  • Part 2 *
  • Seven - The Roots of British Tradition 138
  • Eight - The Gentleman Leader 156
  • Nine - Nelson 187
  • Ten - Polar Explorers 207
  • Eleven - Leadership in a Changing World 220
  • Part 3 *
  • Twelve - Charisma 254
  • Thirteen - Women as Leaders 276
  • Fourteen - Styles of Leadership 303
  • Fifteen - Leaders for Tomorrow 335
  • Picture Acknowledgements 346
  • Select Bibliography 347
  • Index 349
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