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MN502: Theoretical Foundations of Advanced Nursing

Stewart Leadership…

MN502 Unit 3 / MN 502 Unit 3 / MN502 Unit3 | A+ work

MN502: Theoretical Foundations of Advanced Nursing

Stewart Leadership…

Stewart Leadership

Eunice Cromwell

MN502: Theoretical Foundations of Advanced Nursing

Prof:  Cynthia Leffel


Stewart Leadership

Robert Greenleaf’s Servant Leadership is among the numerous theories that define leadership and categorically illuminate inherent complexities. The theory states that the best and most effective form of leadership is servant leadership. Through the philosophy, Greenleaf argues that servant leaders are among the best leaders as they form cohesive relationships with their juniors. Through the theory, Greenleaf affirms that leadership does not revolve in exerting power or authority over one’s subject but lies in serving the junior members in any setup (Dennis, 2004).


The theory brings out an entirely new perspective to leadership as not only being in a position of power and superiority but also being able to serve the interest of your people wholeheartedly. Robert Greenleaf seeks to bring the strength of leadership back to the people and treat leaders as agents of their subjects’ desires and ambitions. First published in an essay back in 1970, the theory employs the thinking that if leaders focus on the desires of their people, then the people will reciprocate through teamwork, hard work, loyalty and better performance. The theory has garnered notable acceptance from Christian leaders who give Jesus as the best example of a servant leader.


Traditionally, leadership meant the accumulation and exercise of power by an individual. Robert Greenleaf in his article, The Servant as Leader published in 1970, redefines leadership by introducing the concept of servant and servant-leadership (Greenleaf, 1970). Greenleaf argues that a servant-leader is a servant first then a leader. Therefore, a servant leader must have the natural feeling of wanting to serve first. After this, then the conscious choice of the individual leads him or her to aspire to lead. Leaders first and servant first are two extremes that define the idea of a leader with different blends and shades that bring out the nature of human beings and society. The difference manifests in the desire to put the interests and priorities of others first and make sure they receive the required attention. Greenleaf defines servant leadership as the ability of an individual in power to cater for the needs of his or her juniors while attending to other issues. Since inception, Greenleaf has not alerted his philosophical purview as the world has evolved towards his assertions. For instance, the current flat organizational structures assimilate the precept of servant leadership in that leaders have to close the existing gap between themselves and their subjects. To date, corporate leaders have to serve their subjects seeking to motivate their juniors and foster improved performance.

Theory Testing

Since its inception to date, the servant leadership theory has grown and matured as several leadership personalities are increasingly embracing the idea of servant leadership. Originally developed by Greenleaf, other researchers have also collaborated and extensively done more research to help expound on the theory and its perspectives. Larry Spears, for instance, analyzed the works of Greenleaf and outlined ten essential traits and characteristics of servant leaders. The attributes include listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of others and building community (Spears, 2010). Spears disintegrated the servant leadership theory to small, understandable tenets that leaders have to use the ten essential traits formed a framework for more leaders to mimic as the idea of servant leadership grows and matures among several people and researchers. Currently, most institutions and organizations have adopted the servant leadership theory since its base is not only philosophical but also realistic.  .


The theory’s best form of assessment is how leaders are applying the servant leadership skills in leading in various fields. With the passage of time, different areas have used the theory including leadership of politics, organizations and other social settings (Koshal, 2005). However, in structure setup, the approach has elicited doubts of its effectiveness. Several theorists and researchers have cited arguments that the leader could focus more on the needs of his followers rather than the objectives and mission of the organization. The critics argue that a servant leader might dedicate more time to his or her juniors and neglect the assigned roles and responsibilities. However, a servant leader delegates authority to his juniors by empowering their decision-making abilities and ensuring that they conform to the organizational bylaws. The theory remains among the most popular leadership theories as it provides more emphasis on the followers than any other leadership theory.


Without a doubt, the servant leadership theory has stood the test of time given that leaders are increasingly using the concept to bolster their performance. On the other hand, the theory has amassed significance in the political scene. The best breeds of political leaders now are those who represent the needs, rights and freedom of their subjects and constituents first. Unlike the ancient days when leadership was all about holding a position of authority and exercising control and power over one’s followers’ modern day leaders understand the need to serve. Robert’s theory is realistic as it meets the needs of both leaders as well as their subjects as opposed to concentrating on one party. Since Greenleaf unveiled the servant leadership theory, numerous organizations and institutions have garnered notable benefits following its application. Robert Greenleaf’s’ theory of servant leadership has therefore transformed leadership and continues to mold new and future leaders.


Dennis, R. S. (2004). Servant leadership theory: Development of the servant leadership assessment instrument.

Greenleaf, R. (1970). The Servant as Leader. Corporate Ethics and Corporate Governance, 79-85.

Koshal, J. N. (2005). Servant leadership theory: Application of the construct of service in the context of Kenyan leaders and managers.

Spears, L. C. (2010). Servant Leadership and Robert K. Greenleaf’s Legacy. Servant Leadership, 11-24.


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