Servant Leadership: The New Paradigm

We’re all familiar with the model of the traditional organization. The CEO sits atop the pyramid, followed by the vice presidents, managers, supervisors, and then the employees. At the bottom are the customers. It’s almost as if the customer is there to serve needs of organization.

But what if we invert this pyramid and put the customer on top? After all, isn’t it the customers who make paydays possible? If we invert the pyramid, the customers are on top – followed by the employees, supervisors, managers, vice presidents, and followed by the CEO at the bottom.

In the traditional pyramid, those on the bottom focus on meeting the needs of those on the next rung. Employees try to meet the needs of their supervisors. Supervisors try to meet the needs of their managers, etc., all the way to vice presidents trying to please the CEO. The customers somehow are lost in this process.

IMG_1914If you invert the pyramid and put the CEO at the bottom and the customer on top, you’ve inverted the relationship. The CEO must focus on meeting the needs of the vice presidents, the needs of the managers, etc. all the way through the employees on meeting the needs of the customers.

If you proposed this idea in your organization, you’re likely to hear the question – “Who came up with this crazy idea?”

The answer is Robert Greenleaf and the leadership model is Servant Leadership.

Greenleaf came up with the idea of Servant Leadership after reading Hermann Hesse’s book Journey to the East, the story of a mountainous expedition that fell apart when Leo, one of the servants to the group, disappeared. Greenleaf realized that although everyone thought of Leo as a servant, he was actually leading the expedition through his actions.

The core premise of Servant Leadership is that organizations function best when leaders focus not on having their needs met, but focus on meeting the legitimate needs of others. The CEO should not ask “what do I need done today?” But rather, “what can I do today to help others do their jobs” and ultimately serve the customer.

By focusing on the needs of others, a servant leader becomes a servant first. The servant leader does not rely on formal authority; the ability to dictate and command what others are to do. Rather, they lead through informal authority, creating a willingness on the part of others to follow voluntarily.

Leaders gain informal authority not through the organization chart, but through their actions; the willingness to focus on the legitimate needs of others and to do what must be done.

The servant leader then uses this informal authority to get others to work enthusiastically toward the goals of the organization. A servant example, not fiat.


About the Author

William S. Hettinger, Ph.D., is an author, educator and consultant to educational institutions and corporations both large and small.

Dr. Hettinger is an expert in making the complex simple. In his teaching and consulting, he excels at taking in both complex concepts and technical material and translating them into simple, understandable language. As an educator, Dr. Hettinger has trained numerous students in leadership, research, communications, business and entrepreneurship. His latest book is Online Classes That Work! Discovering the Secrets to Teaching Online (2014, Effective E-Learning)

Leadership Passion: the Secret Ingredient of Effective Leaders

Realizing your potential, reaching your potential, and helping others to realize and reach theirs as well…that’s leadership!

Howard C. Fero, PhD
The Leadership Doc

There are many ways to be an effective leader, to inspire our followers, and most importantly to inspire leadership in all those around us. In this inaugural Leadership post in the Albertus Magnus College blog I will talk to you about what I think is one of the most important dimensions of leadership, passion!

The Secret Ingredient is Passion

Passion for a cause makes you a more impactful leader. If we are all to take control of our lives, become successful at what we do, and, as a leader does, inspire people along the way, we need to find that ‘thing’ or that ‘cause’ that inspires passion in us, develop it to its potential, and use it to help others. When we are passionate about a cause it is palpable to those around us and will encourage and excite those around us to feel the same.


So, how do we find our passion?

It begins with self-discovery. Think about those things that you most enjoy doing. Do you love to create programs, do you love to teach children, heal others, help people with their finances, play ball? It could be anything, we all find our passion in different areas, the key is to find it, act on it, and add value to what we are doing and who we are doing it with. Think about how you act when you’re doing what you love. Most likely you are excited, happy, in the zone, and focused. When you are doing these things your passion shows and others around you know it. They want to follow you because they want to be excited about something just as you are.

People like Steve Jobs and Herb Kelleher in business, like Joe Maddon, Davey Johnson, and Don Mattingly in baseball, and people like Mother Theresa, Mahatma Gandhi, and the Dali Lama who have done so much for our society are all very different types of leaders, but they were and are quite similar in that they were driven by their passion to do whatever it takes to promote their cause. I reference these vastly different people to show that when exhibiting our passion we do so in different ways for we are all individuals. Passion does not need to be shown by jumping up and down screaming, it can be exemplified by quiet, but meaningful words. We need to always pay attention to the situation we are in, the people we are trying to impact, and the strengths we have as a leader. When we understand these three dimensions and how they work together we can lead ourselves and those around us to success.

I challenge you all to think about those causes you are passionate about, get involved, and begin (or continue) to enact change!


Dr. Howard Fero, is an Associate Professor of Business and Leadership and the Director of Graduate Leadership programs at Albertus Magnus College. When not teaching classes and overseeing the Leadership programs at Albertus Dr. Fero uses his expertise to help individuals and organizations achieve optimal performance and effectiveness as The Leadership Doc. Dr. Fero will be blogging about different leadership topics throughout the year and speaks about these topics in his classes in the Master of Arts in Leadership and Master of Science in Management and Organizational Leadership Programs. He welcomes your comments and looks forward to communicating with you in our exciting new blog.