In the past two decades, styles of leadership have changed tremendously. One truth that has evolved in the past decades is that top-down leadership is dead!
Those who work in various businesses, volunteer groups, charity organizations and even congregations have come to believe that they should be involved in the decision-making processes of their group.
Those who are proving themselves to be productive and successful leaders have embraced the idea of merging with those they are attempting to lead. The business world seems to have engaged the idea that it is better for the leader to encounter those they are attempting to lead on level ground.
In his article, Effective Leadership Strategies for CEOs, Ethan Lyon makes this point about top-down leadership:
“In rigid corporate hierarchical structures, often there are clearly defined boundaries between upper management and lower-level employees. Typically top floor executives do not share much time with those on the ground floor. If a CEO meets their employees on the ground level and can show there is not a rigid hierarchical barrier between them and the rest of their company, word-of-mouth can spread to show they are not above, but with them. In these systems it’s important, particularly in times like these, to dip your hands into the process—not just oversee it. As morale might be turning sour as headlines are dominated by job losses, employees and managers might question whether they will be a part of company cost cutting. Having more of a presence is important to potentially boost morale. Furthermore, those on the ground floor have the closest interaction with customers. Understanding their perspective can give you ideas to manage your team more effectively.” (Effective Leadership Strategies for CEOs)
Top down leadership will not do very well any longer. However, servant leader styles can be very healthy for any organization. Someone who sees himself as a servant and not a dictator will find basic and powerful principles in this mode of thinking.
- A servant leader believes that his or her overall objective is to make those they are leading to be successful.
- A servant leader does not see those in their organization as their personal servants.
- A servant leader’s main objective is to help accomplish the mission of the organization by encouraging every member of that organization.
- A servant leader understands that their main role is to be the “coach” of the team. Every good coach knows that for the team to be productive every member of that team must be encouraged and built up.
Jesus Christ set the best example of servant leadership styles known to humanity. His style of leadership was shown even up to the “last supper” he had with his disciples.
As the disciple came in for the meal Jesus met them at the door and as a servant would meet his master to wash the dirt from their feet, so Jesus did for his disciples. The Gospel of John, explains this event:
“Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” Peter said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.” ………So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him.” (John 13:5-16)
When defining servant leadership styles, Hanz Finzel put it this way,
“Here is the bottom line on servant leadership: The focus of a servant-leader is creating the best climate and investing in human cultivation, not majoring in control. (Leaders on Leadership: Wisdom, Advice and Encouragement on the Art of Leading God’s People page 274)
Jesus set the greatest example of creating servant leadership styles. If anyone had the power and strength to overpower those he was leading, Jesus certainly had the power to do so. His example of servant leadership was brought to earth over two-thousand years ago and is the best example for any leader today.