Monday Motivation: Serve To Lead

Monday Motivation: Serve To Lead

STOUT Inspiration + Action To Accelerate Your Week

Get inspired by Robert K. Greenleaf’s model of servant leadership then use our Stout Action Plan to find how you can serve others with purpose.


Robert K. Greenleaf was a math major from Terre Haut, Indiana who spent his successful 38 year career span at AT&T working to positively influence the nature and philosophy of leadership. He is best known, however, for his second career as writer, consultant, and teacher who pioneered the idea of “serving first to lead best” in his seminal 1970 essay “The Servant as Leader”.

While in school, Greenleaf began to see that large institutions were not doing a good job of serving individuals or the larger society. His mission post-graduation was to promote the idea that “the organization exists for the person as much as the person exists for the organization” from within one of those big businesses- which he did at AT&T by originating, among other changes, the world’s first corporate assessment center, promotion of the first females and Blacks to non-menial positions.

After retiring from AT&T in 1964, Greenleaf began in earnest to speak and publish books in which he advocated that true leadership “begins with a natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first, as opposed to, wanting power, influence, fame, or wealth.” He believed that the best leaders were servants first, and the key tools for a servant-leader included listening, persuasion, access to intuition and foresight, use of language, and pragmatic measurements of outcomes.

Leadership must first and foremost meet the needs of others.



Check Your Heart
If you haven’t made a head to heart connection with at least some aspect of your current work it may be time for a pivot. It’s hard lead the way if you’re not sure of the path! Dig out what you DO like about your current situation- that’s where your purpose lies and where your leadership will shine the brightest.

Make Their Win Yours
Flex your EQ muscle and REALLY connect with your team, customers, and/or audience. Define what a win looks like to them, and see how you can ALIGN YOUR GOALS so they light the way TO THEIR WIN.

Flip The Script
The typical management pyramid has the leader at top, with team, customers, and/or audience supporting them- but how much more could you grow if instead you looked at every goal with the idea of “how can I best serve the needs of the very people who make this enterprise a success” in mind?

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