The term “Servant Leadership” was first coined in the year 1970 by Robert K. Greenleaf in his essay “The Servant as Leader” Below is an excerpt from his essay in which he relates how his reading of Hesse’s Journey led in developing the servant leadership terminology.
“The idea of the servant as leader came out of reading Hermann Hesse’s Journey to the East. In this story we see a band of men on a mythical journey, probably also Hesse’s own journey. The central figure of the story is Leo, who accompanies the party as the servant who does their menial chores, but who also sustains them with his spirit and his song. He is a person of extraordinary presence. All goes well until Leo disappears. Then the group falls into disarray and the journey is abandoned. They cannot make it without the servant Leo. The narrator, one of the party, after some years of wandering, finds Leo and is taken into the Order that had sponsored the journey. There he discovers that Leo, whom he had known first as servant, was in fact the titular head of the Order, its guiding spirit, a great and noble leader.”
Though the term was introduced 50 years from now, but it is more applicable and relevant to us now than anytime before. We are indebted to Greenleaf for offering us hope and taking us in a journey of self discovery and the essence of true leadership. Now the question is how far can we carry this torch of servant leadership? The question is not about 50 years but rather is it far enough…..???