The Simple Things Matter

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The Servant Leader

Recently I was given the opportunity to read a book entitled “The Servant Leader” by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges.

Below are my notes that I took while reading this book.


As you lead ask yourself “Am I a servant leader or a self-serving leader”. Be brutally honest with yourself. It will take you to the core of your intention and motivation as a leader. (Pg. 17)

Alice came to a fork in the road. She asked the Cheshire Cat which road to take. The cat asked where she was going, she didn’t know. The cat responded, “Then it doesn’t matter”. Without clear direction, your leadership doesn’t matter. (Pg. 47)

What are the key values of your organization? Which is the most important? True success in servant leadership depends on how clearly values are defined, ordered, and lived by the leader. (Pg. 51)

The vision of your organization must be bigger than you are. Servant leadership starts with a vision and ends with a servant heart that helps people live according to that vision. (Pg. 57)

STRIVING TO BE A SERVANT LEADER

You must elevate growth and development of people from a “means” to an “end” goal of equal importance to the product or service of the organization. Servant leadership requires a level of intimacy with the needs and aspirations of the people being led that might be beyond the level of intimacy and ego-driven leader is willing to sustain. (Pg. 58)

Sustainable servant leadership behaviors will only emerge as an expression of a committed and convinced heart. (Pg. 58)

Servant Leadership Involves ….

  1. Setting the vision
  2. Defining and modeling the operating values, structure and behavior norms
  3. Creating the follower environment with partners in the vision
  4. Moving to the bottom of the hierarchy with service in mind

Servant leaders have a role in facilitating change. Leaders must recognize there are four levels of change that vary in degrees of difficulty and time required.

  1. ”Knowledge” – Easiest and lest time-consuming thing to change. To increase knowledge we can read a book, take a class, or listen to an expert.
  2. ”Attitude” – Emotionally charged bits of knowledge. People either feel positive or negative about something. Changing somebody’s attitude is more difficult than changing their knowledge.
  3. ”Behavior” – Much harder and more time-consuming to change than attitude and knowledge. Now people have to actually do something. Before it was just having knowledge about a topic or adjusting your feelings on a topic. Now you must ACT on a topic.
  4. ”Organization” – Most difficult to change and most time-consuming. You have to influence knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of many different people.

Why is change so hard?
Change is a must. We adapt or we die. The same is true for organizations. As a servant leader, we must determine which changes are needed to implement the vision and help people move in that direction.

The Seven Reactions People have to Change

  1. People feel awkward, ill at ease when confronted by change.
    • Tell people what to expect.
  2. People will feel alone even if everyone else is going through the same change.
    • Structure activities that create involvement. Encourage individuals to share ideas and to work together to help each other through change.
  3. People will think first about what they have to give up.
    • Don’t try to sell the benefits of the change effort initially. Let people mourn their perceived losses. Listen to them.
  4. People will think they can only handle so much change at once.
    • Set priorities on which changes to make, and go for the long run.
  5. People will be concerned that they don’t have enough resources to implement the change.
    • Encourage creative problem-solving.
  6. People will be at different levels of readiness for any particular change.
    • Don’t label or pick on people. Recognize that some people are risk-takers and others take longer to feel secure. Someone who’s an early adopter of one type of change might balk at another type of change.
  7. If the pressure is taken off, people will refer to old behaviors.
    • Keep people focused on maintaining the change and managing the journey.

Encouragement and Feedback

We do the best we can but we still need outside information to help us see how we’re doing. (Pg. 102)

Two main ways growth takes place:

  • When you are open to feedback from other people.
  • When you are willing to disclose your vulnerabilities to other people.

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