servant leader

The title ‘servant leader’ is a very intentional oxymoron. A servant, by definition, is someone who does not have power; they do what they are told. A leader, as we usually think of such a person, is someone who has power or authority, someone who can cause others to do things (either through an official position, the force of their personality/will, or usually both).
Putting these two antinomies together means that such a leader, a servant leader, must be a person who causes others to do something without the use of power or authority. While this may seem unheard of, there is actually a growing trend in corporate America to just this sort of leadership model. MBA programs all over are studying the successes of people like Max De Pree, the CEO of Herman Miller, who has pioneered this type of leadership. De Pree has written several books on the subject, Leading WIthout Power and Leadership Jazz being the best ones. Along the same lines is the concept of relartional leadership, as best described in Relational Leadership by Walter Wright. Wright convincingly argues for the importance of building strong leadership teams through caring and friendship and explains how to do this.
You will find that this leadership model draws directly on the teachings of Jesus, even though this model seems more popular outside the church than inside it. The key here is a healthy sense of selflessness – people who think primarily of themselves and their own gain often wind up in leadership roles (due to their narcissism more than anything) but this never goes well because a good leader puts those led ahead of herself or himself. The effective leader does not lead for personal gain, but because there are people who need to go from one place to another (whether this is spatial, developmental, or otherwise). The good leader will reap rewards for good leadership, but these are never the driving force, never the reason for leading. The leader who leads for selfish reasons is a bad leader. Always. Learn to recognize this and refuse to follow bad leaders and you will have a happier life.