I believe in Servant Leadership's efficacy in the real world. After our discussion of servant leadership, I felt that the topic deserved some further investigation. There exists in Indiana the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, which was originally founded by Robert K. Greenleaf in 1964. I decided to blog about this Center because I think the Center's existence, and more importantly the significance of its supporters show that the philosophy of Servant Leadership has a real presence in many the world's top organizations.
To begin with, the Center's President, Kent M. Keith, lists the following as key practices of servant leaders. These points helped me to view servant leadership in a more practical light: Self-Awareness, Listening, Changing the Pyramid (that is, the traditional hierarchical "boss" structure), Developing Colleagues, Coaching - Not Controlling, Unleashing the Energy and Intelligence of Others, and Foresight.
The Center's Board of Directors includes business and education leaders from around the world. I was most struck by the first person mentioned: Howard Behar, former president of Starbucks North America and Starbucks International. Behar joined Starbucks in 1989 and became president of Starbucks International in 1995 before retiring as Starbucks North America in 2003. Behar champions Servant Leadership. In a forward to James Autry's The Servant Leader, Behar describes how the philosophy of Servant Leadership rejuvenated Starbucks, and in his own book, It's Not About the Coffee, Behar writes that "the person who is a servant of all is the most capable leader," before referring to Greenleaf's The Servant as Leader.
Behar brought the ideas of Servant Leadership to Starbucks because there was something missing in the corporate culture. Rather than working as a cohesive team, Starbucks was a collection of individuals. I think that the fact that Starbucks was led by such a significant proponent of Servant Leadership during the company's most successful period shows that there is something to be said for the practical aspect of Servant Leadership.