Robert K. Greenleaf first coined the phrase "servant leadership" in his 1970 essay, "The Servant as a Leader." However, it's an approach that people have used for centuries. This style of leadership focuses on the needs of others, such as your team, before yourself. So what exactly makes this type of leadership so different from other types?
The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature. A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid,” servant leadership is different. The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.
As many of you are, I’m a HUGE Game of Thrones fan. A point of interest I had, that directly relates to this, almost entirely, is the style of leadership that is possessed by this character: Jon Snow. Season 8, episode 1, Jon stated how he’s no longer king of the north and bent the knee to Daenerys. He wasn’t interested in being king, rather wanted to support his people, especially keeping them safe, in the war to come. His title wasn’t given to him because he wanted it, it was given to him because he had earned it. Jon clearly possesses Servant and Democratic leadership styles.
Leaders need allies that match the challenge at hand. For example,
“You mean to tell me that I must ask my Granddaughter to fight?”
Before Jon could speak, the young Lady Mormount spoke out,
“All the people of Bear Island will fight! I will be training beside them.”
Lady Mormont is a brave young girl of about 11 years of age. This brought the argument to an end, and brought forth the first law of making tough decisions, leaders need allies that match the challenge. Lady Mormont’s testimony was so powerful because she was a young girl that agreed with Jon’s decision to arm all people.
Secondly, leaders must be prepared to be publicly challenged. Jon’s next challenge occurred when he announced that he would,
“Restore the Karstark and Umber houses”
to the current living heads of the houses. This was met by great opposition from his sister Sansa. She felt that the families should, “Have their houses stripped away, and given to loyal families.”
Jon argued that,
“I will not strip the lands of a noble family for the sins of their fathers, and their fathers are dead.”
This did not sit well with Sansa, and they publicly feuded for a few moments. Leaders are constantly met with opposition and at times, it may come from the closest of allies. Handling the oppositions with poise and grace will always be key.
Thirdly, leaders must be absolute in doing what they feel is right. Jon will often seek council in his decisions. He has proven to do that in the past. Yet, when Jon makes a decision that he feels is correct, he stands by it. Even when the council of his advisors is against his decision. We see this as Jon holds fast to his decision when he says with a stern voice,
“It is my decision, and my decision is final!”
This ended the debate between he and Sansa.
Fourth, leaders show grace to the weak. He then called the head of the Houses of Umber and Karstark forward. You would expect to see 2 very strong men step forward. Instead, a young boy and girl under the ages of 12 stepped forward. Jon asked them to pledge their loyalty to House Stark. The two drew their swords, bowed their heads, and pledged their loyalty. I loved this moment in the show. It perfectly exemplifies who Jon is as a leader and as a person. He could have easily taken all from the 2 families. They were at their weakest in life, and their whole lineage could have ended that day Jon showed Grace. He chose to heal, instead of cause further damage.
Lastly, I hope Jon Snow doesn’t face another death at the hands of his friends. But he could. He could give it all, again. And, if faced with the challenge of death, or doing wrong, I know that Jon will choose death. Which leads to the last point for today, leaders will sacrifice for the greater good.
Written by: A.Joyner