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Servant Leader

Servant Leader

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by Ken Blanchard

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Best-selling author of The One-Minute Manager, Ken Blanchard, along with Phil Hodges, reveals the meaning of servant leadership modeled after Jesus Christ. Based on Blanchard's and Hodges' Faith Walk seminars, business leaders come to realize that teams are more powerful than the sum of the individuals and to recognize their people as appreciating assets.


Best-selling author of The One-Minute Manager, Ken Blanchard, along with Phil Hodges, reveals the meaning of servant leadership modeled after Jesus Christ. Based on Blanchard's and Hodges' Faith Walk seminars, business leaders come to realize that teams are more powerful than the sum of the individuals and to recognize their people as appreciating assets.

Servant Leader summarizes the Four Dimensions of Leadership:

  • the head (leadership assumptions and methods)
  • the hands (application and leadership behavior)
  • the heart (edging God out)
  • the habits (solitude, prayer, study of scripture, unconditional love, etc.)

The thousands who have attended his seminars witnessed the transforming power of this unconventional approach. Readers seeking to grow as leaders and business executives will find Servant Leader nothing short of life-changing.

Editorial Reviews

"Servant leader" sounds like an oxymoron, but One Minute Manager savant Ken Blanchard believes that this phrase holds the key to effective leadership. Insisting that effective leadership begins on the inside, Blanchard urges would-be leaders to use the model of Jesus. "Are you," he asks, "a servant leader or a self-serving leader?" In succinct, memorable chapters, Blanchard challenges readers to lead for a purpose higher than financial success or corporate position.

Product Details

Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
New Edition
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Product dimensions:
6.28(w) x 8.16(h) x 0.43(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Servant Leader

Transforming Your Heart, Head, Hands, & Habits

By Ken Blanchard, Phil Hodges

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2003 Blanchard Family Partnership and Phil Hodges
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4185-6152-9


Whom Do You Follow? How Will You Lead?

In His instructions to His first disciples on how they were to lead, Jesus sent a clear message to all those who would follow Him that leadership was to be first and foremost an act of service. No Plan B was implied or offered in His words. He placed no restrictions or limitations of time, place, or situation that would allow us to exempt ourselves from His command. For a follower of Jesus, servant leadership isn't just an option; it's a mandate.

The truly exciting part of following Jesus is that He never sends you into any situation with a faulty plan or a plan to fail. Because of who He is, when Jesus speaks on a subject He guides us in a path that is in harmony with the molecular structure of the universe. When He speaks on leadership, He speaks to us of what is both right and effective.

Come all of you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble at heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

—Matthew 11:28–30

Would you hire him? A common barrier to embracing Jesus as a role model for leadership often lies in skepticism of the relevance of His teaching to your specific leadership situations. One way of putting Jesus to the test would be to apply the same criteria to His knowledge, experience, and success that you would to the hiring of a business consultant.

Take a few moments to reflect on the following leadership challenges you might be facing and see if you would hire Jesus as your personal leadership consultant based on His earthly experience as a leader.

Does Jesus have any relevant practical knowledge or experience in dealing with the following types of leadership issues I face day to day?


________________________ Dealing with and accomplishing a mission with imperfect people

________________________ The need to establish a clear sense of purpose and direction

________________________ Recruitment and selection of people to carry on the work

________________________ Training, development, and delegation issues

________________________ Constant conflicting demands on time, energy, and resources

________________________ Fierce competition

________________________ Turnover, betrayal, and lack of understanding by friends and family

________________________ Constant scrutiny and challenges of commitment and integrity

________________________ Temptations of instant gratification, recognition, and misuse of power

________________________ Effective handling of criticism, rejection, distractions, and opposition

________________________ Pain and suffering in serving the greatest good

With the answers to those questions in mind, how would Jesus do your job differently than you do? __________________________________ _______________________________________________________________

If you choose to accept Jesus as your leadership model and consultant, how can you get in touch with Him? ________________________________ _______________________________________________________________

How has He indicated His interest and willingness to help you with your daily challenges and temptations? _______________________________ _______________________________________________________________

The Journey. As we explore what it means to lead like Jesus we will be journeying through two internal and two external domains. The motivations of our heart and our leadership point of view can, at first, be something we can keep inside and even mask over if it suits a private purpose. Our public leadership behavior and habits as experienced by others will determine how they follow. When the Heart, Head, Hands, and Habits are aligned, extraordinary levels of loyalty, trust, and productivity will result. When they are out of alignment, frustration, mistrust, and diminished long-term productivity are the result.

Going Inside. Leadership is first a matter of the heart. Whenever we have an opportunity or responsibillity to influence the thinking, behavior, or development of others, the first choice we are called to make is whether to see the moment through the eyes of self-interest or for the benefit of those we are leading.




Self-Serving Leaders vs. Servant Leaders.

As you consider the heart issues of leadership, a primary question you will continue to ask yourself is: "Am I a servant leader or a self-serving leader?" It is a question that, when answered witttth brutal honesty, will go to the core of your intention or motivation as a leader.

One of the quickest ways you can tell the difference between a servant leader and a self-serving leader is how they handle feedback, because one of the biggest fears that self-serving leaders have is to lose their position.

Self-serving leaders spend most of their time protecting their status. If you give them feedback, how do they usually respond? Negatively. They think your feedback means that you don't want their leadership anymore.

Servant leaders, however, look at leadership as an act of service. They embrace and welcome feedback as a source of useful information on how they can provide better service.

Another way to tell a self-serving from a servant leader is how they approach succession planning.

Self-serving leaders who are addicted to power, recognition, and who are afraid of loss of position, are not likely to spend any time or effort in training their replacements.


Devotional on Successorship

"Well done good and faithful servant!"

—Matthew 25:21

Those few words above sum up what we all would like to hear when final judgment is rendered for our efforts to make a difference. One aspect of a job well done as a servant leader is what we do to prepare others to carry on after our season of leadership is completed. Your personal succession planning efforts will speak volumes about your motives as a leader. It is likely that anyone leading from an ego involved in the promotion and protection of self is not going to spend much time training and developing their potential successor. Just as avoiding or discouraging honest feedback on a day- to-day basis is a mark of an ego-driven leader, so is failure to develop someone to take your place.

In the use of His time and efforts on earth, Jesus modeled sacrificial passion for ensuring that His followers were equipped to carry on the movement. He lived his legacy in intimate relationship with those He empowered by His words and example.

Leighton Ford in Transforming Leadership notes that "Long before modern managers, Jesus was busy preparing people for the future. He wasn't aiming to pick a crown prince, but to create a successor generation. When the time came for Him to leave, He did not put in place a crash program of leadership development—the curriculum had been taught for three years in a living classroom."

How are you doing in preparing others to take your place when the time comes? Do you consider them a threat or an investment in the future? Are you willing to share what you know and provide opportunities to learn and grow to those who will come after you? If not, why not? These are critical matters of the heart of a servant leader. A few minutes of brutal honesty regarding your motives as a leader are worth years of self-deception.

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead I call you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. —John 15:15

Servant leaders, who consider their position as being on loan and as an act of service, look beyond their own season of leadership and prepare the next generation of leaders.

Jesus modeled the true servant leader by investing most of His time training and equipping the disciples for leadership when His earthly ministry was over.

I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things because I am going to the Father. — John 14:12–13

Self-Serving or Servant Leader: Which are you?

The reality is that we're all self-serving to a degree because we came into this world with self-serving hearts. Is there anything more self-serving than a baby? A baby doesn't come home from the hospital asking, "Can I help around the house?"

The journey of life is to move from a self-serving heart to a serving heart. You finally become an adult when you realize that life is about what you give, rather than what you get.

Every day leaders face hundreds of challenges to their intentions. Our adversary is waiting every day to get us to be ego-driven, to be self-serving. Every day we must realign our heart. You'll never be able to say, "Now I'm a servant leader, and I'm never going to be self-serving." We're all going to be grabbed off course by our egos. Just ask yourself, "How am I going to be today? Am I going to be self-serving? Or am I going to be a servant?"

To successfully combat temptations to be self-serving we need to surrender daily our motives and actions to Christ as our guide and role model for how we should lead.

CASE STUDY: Preparing to Lead.

At the beginning of His ministry, we see Jesus preparing to lead by acts of submission and testing of His character.

In Matthew 3:13–17 & 4:1–11 (NKJV) we read of two key interactions. Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?" 15 But Jesus answered and said to him, "Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he allowed Him. 16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

In His interaction with John, Jesus demonstrated two very significant attributes of servant leadership. He validated and affirmed John in his ministry and submitted Himself to the same acts of surrender to doing the right thing that He would require of others. A servant leader never asks anyone to do something they wouldn't be willing to do themselves.

1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, "If You are the S on of God, command that these stones become bread." 4 But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" 5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, "If You are the S on of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge over you,' and, 'In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.'" 7 Jesus said to him, "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the LORD your God.'" 8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to Him, "All these things I will give you if you will fall down and worship me." 10 Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve." Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.

It is easy to concentrate too much attention on the physical hardships of Jesus' fast in the wilderness experience and miss the profound spiritual conditioning for servant leadership that took place.

When tempted by three of the most universal and powerful temptations a leader can face—instant gratification, recognition and applause, and improper use and lust for power—Jesus was at His spiritual best. Notice how Jesus used the Word of God He had stored in His heart and mind to confront and defeat the devil.

As you enter into a season of leadership, the quality of your service will be a direct result of your spiritual preparation.

What's Your Leadership EGO? In 1923, pioneer psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud defined the ego as the conscious part of a person's psyche, the part that controls thought and behavior and interprets external reality. In short, he said ego is self-awareness.

Freud's ego theory has long since fused with pop culture, and we're now used to hearing people talk about "ego trips," "bruised egos," and "egomaniacs."

But in this book, when we talk about ego, we're not talking about a psychological term; we're talking about major heart issues. At Lead Like Jesus, we have two simple definitions of ego:

EGO—Edging God Out


EGO—Exalting God Only

It doesn't get much simpler than that.

Mastering Pride and Fear. The temptations of life—particularly false pride and fear—make it easy for us to Edge God Out as the object of our worship, as our source of security and self-worth, and as our audience, ultimate authority, and judge. When you start to Edge God Out in your daily decision making as a leader, the integrity of your leadership is quickly eroded.

When we're hypnotized by false pride, we promote ourselves by being boastful, taking too much credit, showing off, doing all the talking, and demanding attention.

When we're fearful, we are protective of ourselves at work and at home. Fearful leaders may hide behind their positions, withhold information, intimidate others, become "control freaks" and discourage honest feedback.

The results of Edging God Out in the form of pride and fear are predictable.

Pride and fear always separate man from God, man from other people, and man from himself. Isolation is a breeding ground for EGO-clouded thinking and misdirected actions.

Pride and fear always generate unhealthy judgments about our own condition based on the successes or failures of others. Pride and fear always distort the truth into either a false sense of security or a lack of confidence and diminished self-worth.

Taking time to identify your fears and sources of false pride is a vital step to breaking their negative impact on all your relationships and your effectiveness as a leader.

When you can start to name these demons in your relationships, they lose their power over you. Phil's pastor, Byron MacDonald, said, "When I step out of a servant heart in a relationship, then I release the beast into that relationship." Tame your heart, and you tame that beast.

How Do We Edge God Out?

>> When we put something else in His place as the object of our worship

When you're making a leadership decision, what do you put in God's place as the object of your worship? Power, recognition, appreciation, money—whatever it is, it's not worth it. :: For we who worship God in the spirit ... put no confidence in human effort. Instead we boast about what Christ Jesus has done for us. —Philippians 3:3 (NLT)

>> When we rely on other sources for our security and sufficiency

When we put our trust in something else other than the unconditional love of God, other than in His care for us, when we put our security in other things—it can be our intellect, our position, our business contacts, anything—we're counting on the temporal instead of the eternal. :: Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths —Proverbs 3:5–6

>> When we put others in His place as our major audience for self-worth

In Robert S. McGee's The Search for Significance, we learn that if the devil had a formula for self-worth that he would want you to buy into, it would be: Your self-worth is equal to your performance plus the opinion of others. If you're constantly looking to make yourself feel good or worthwhile based on your performance or the opinions of others, you're constantly going to be chasing an elusive, frustrating fantasy. :: It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. —Psalm 118:8

>> When we lose intimacy with His unconditional love, we fear intimacy with others

One of the greatest EGO factors that self-serving leaders driven by pride and fear have is the fear of intimacy with others. Like the Wizard of Oz they create scary false fronts and barriers between themselves and their people rather than admit that they don't know all the answers, that they may need help. They fear if they are vulnerable with people, their leadership might be questioned. The loneliness and isolation that result from fear of intimacy leaves the leader separated from the realities of what is going on and from the good ideas that others may have to offer.


Excerpted from The Servant Leader by Ken Blanchard, Phil Hodges. Copyright © 2003 Blanchard Family Partnership and Phil Hodges. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Ken Blanchard is the coauthor of The One Minute Manager® and fifty other books, including the New York Times business bestsellers Gung Ho! and Raving Fans. His books have combined sales of more than eighteen million copies in more than twenty-seven languages. He is the chief spiritual officer of The Ken Blanchard Companies, a full-service global management training and development company that he and his wife, Dr. Marjorie Blanchard, founded in 1979.

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Servant Leader 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
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A must for all would be or current leaders
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