Menu Close

Robert K. Greenleaf


Frick, Don M, foreword by Peter M. Senge, & afterword by Larry C. Spears. Robert K. Greenleaf: A Life of Servant Leadership. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2004.

Becoming a human being, and preparing a foundation for leadership, starts with developing the capacity to see what we have not seen before. If this capacity is absent, actions taken in the face of novel circumstances will actually be reactions from our past rather than appropriate for the present. As the capacity to stop becomes developed, our actions start to emerge from a broader field, the field of the future that is seeking to emerge.

…Greenleaf advocated: listening, consensus decision making, persuasion, lifelong learning, participatory research, exposure to ideas from the humanities, shared power, and full accountability.

Greenleaf says a leader is one who “goes out ahead and shows the way… He says, ‘I will go, follow me!’ when he knows that the path is uncertain, even dangerous.”

The leader always knows the goal and “can articulate it for any who are unsure. By clearly stating and restating the goal the leader gives certainty and purpose to others who may have difficulty in achieving it for themselves…. The word goal is used here in the special sense of the overarching purpose, the big dream, the visionary concept, the ultimate consummation which one approaches but never really achieves.”

People follow leaders because they believe leaders “see more clearly where it is best to go.”

The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. …