Many institutions seek authentic and ethical leadership personalities, as a widening body of literature addresses the styles of leadership and their perceived outcome in institutional performance. Servant-leadership, coined by Robert Greenleaf (1970), has spanned a substantial amount of literal interest (SanFacon & Spears, 2010) but there lacks enough empirical evidence regarding the actual demonstration and utilization of servant- leadership in institutions (Crippen, 2005).
Worth noting is that practices in most of the current organizations today are geared towards individual interests, and imbedding these profit goals with servant-leadership seems mythical. Various leadership models are applied in education and business institutions. These include servant-leadership, transformational leadership and business leadership models (Hawkins, 2009). Servant-leadership is the most desired model for educational leadership because education imparts the lives of people in all aspects in both individual and societal life (Crippen, 2005; Normore, 2010).
While campaigning for board membership at schools, most aspiring leaders promise to give back to the society, an admirable quality of a servant-leader. However, as Cassel and Holt (2008) establish, servant-leadership exists only in a literal sense in schools, and there is still a lot to be done as far as actualizing servant-leadership is concerned. Currently, schools are out to seek ways of improving the quality of education and much faith is based on servant- leadership for this objective (Crippen, 2005b; Silva, 2010).
Proprietorship in higher education is in existence today, compromising the quality of leadership, yet exemplified real life situations of servant-leadership can be demonstrated through educational leadership of outstanding, highly regarded leaders like Dr. Jim Otten. Concepts of leadership are taught and at the same time practiced in education, and therefore it is important to analyze how servant- leadership articulates with leadership in the education sector. The servant-leadership traits coined by Spears (Crippen, 2005a.
) include; listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of others and building community, and have been identified in various literatures. Cassel and Holt (2008) humorously point out that being an unpaid member of the school board does not guarantee one to be a servant-leader, as is the situation in schools, but the ability to exercise the ten innate qualities of leadership. These qualities have been defined by Crippen (2005b. ) through combining the description of other several authors.
Listening involves paying a high level of attentiveness and commitment in listening. Boyum (2008) and Crippen (2005) draws the description of servant-leadership from the historical and philosophical works of Greenleaf whereby a servant-leader is described as one who has the innate value and desire to serve others. This indicates that a servant-leader would prioritize the needs of others before the individual self, with the desire to see the followers excel in body, mind and spirit, as a result of their leadership.
The servant-leader therefore possesses one of the traits described by Spear (1998) and that is commitment to the growth of others. Additionally, Boyum (2008) highlights two distinguishing features of effective leadership, as being built on relational and interpersonal perspectives. Serving others mean that one has to relate with the followers at personal level, identify and meet their needs through the leadership process. Transformational, transactional and servant-leadership all meet the aspects of interpersonal and interrelation leadership (Boyum, 2008).
However, while transformational and transactional leadership encourage interrelationships for the sake of achieving the goals of the leader, servant-leadership focuses on the goals of the followers (Buyom, 2008; Hawkins, 2009; Whale, 2004). How then can the model of servant-leadership be applicable in educational institutes considering that the control-kind of traditional leadership method is rooted in our systems, and that profit-making has become the main center of focus in the institutions? According to Crippen (2005b.
) the answer lies in Greenleaf’s philosophy where teachers are cited to have sufficient latitude to nurture the model in young people. Higher education institutes have been faced with leadership crises over the years. According to Normore (2010), environmental pressure changes brought about by globalization, competition and technology among other aspects warrants the change in leadership tactics at the higher education institutes. However, higher education institutes have been at the forefront in teaching and recommending leadership practices, but reluctant in embracing favorable leadership models for their own practice.
Normore (2010) reviews the work of Michael Fullan and Geoff Scott (2009) who assert that cultural change in the institutions and capacity of leadership must mirror each other. It is only through proactive leadership that the higher education institutions can effectively handle the growing challenges facing the institutions. A proactive leader is one who takes part in the leadership process through subjectivity in the activities of the followers. On the other hand, transactional kind of leadership involves control and creates a sharp distinction between the leaders and the subordinates.
Transactional leadership therefore, does not involve being proactive because all the leader has to do is command or give orders of which the subordinates must follow without questioning or doubt, despite whether the outcome is beneficial or disastrous. This kind of leader as cited by Normore (2010) through the works of Fullan and Scott is not equipped to handle the current challenges facing the higher education learning institutes. Unlike the traditional control kind of leadership that gets followers to work through fear and obedience, servant-leadership achieves the same outcome through trust and respect.
The leader’s ability to relate with followers and empathize in their situation enables a bond of trust to form between the two parties. People who trust their leaders are able to share openly on information and ideas that will enable development of the society (Shugart, 1999). Notably, transformational leadership also creates a bond of trust where the leaders can delegate duties to the employees while they explore other opportunities for success (Hawkins, 2009). The employees work on the basis of trust and loyalty irrespective of the gain.
Trust as cited by Cassel and Holt (2008) can be achieved where the leaders avoid micro managing all aspects in the organizations and let the followers develop through decentralization of leadership. Thomas and Wohlstetter (2010) compare the development progress of various district schools in relation to the community, and their findings reveal that leadership determined the success of the projects a lot. Success was observed where the leaders participated on a hands-on basis rather than control and micromanaging.
The society needs people who are empowered to get involved in successful ventures and is only through being led by a servant-leader. The educational institutes need leaders who have the ability to listen, lead and link (Normore 2010). This is also in accordance to the leadership trait outlined by Spear (1998). Listening to subordinates requires a leader with humility, and the trait of humility is associated with servants, unlike in the much upheld transactional leadership where commanding authority is preferred to humbleness.
Shugart (1999) highlights the unfortunate situation where transactional leadership has borne egocentric leaders who lead, not on a visionary basis but by their ability to force their own thoughts on followers; a dictatorship kind of rule. Basing in this century where transfer of knowledge and innovation are the order of the day, it will be difficult for a powerful authoritative leader to encourage the followers’ thinking into substantiality, and this means that other than the theoretical aspect, the students in universities are not equipped with self- innovative skills where servant-leadership is lacking.
Leading entails that the leader is a steward. A steward, according to Shugart (1999) is one who leads the college thoughtfully through challenging times, with the future in focus. A steward ensures that the vision of the college comes to life and is felt at both institutional and societal level. Similarly to Normore (2010), Shugart (1999) agrees that change and continuity should be in coexistence. A steward therefore is responsible in linking the university to the larger society through coherence in terms of communication, diplomacy, persuasion and pubic advocacy (p. 1).
According Boyum (2008), values are incorporated in stewardship. A servant-leader is grounded in values, manages by values and has vision or foresight just as implicated in Spear’s traits of servant- leadership. The issue of values is significant in the context of educational leadership. Familiarly, there have been concerns about practices of turning institutions into business ventures. Earning from an investment cannot be considered evil as such, but it is the practices behind the venture that raises eyebrows; and this entails venturing in both ethical and non ethical practices as long as money is forthcoming.
This is one issue that calls for quality management of educational institutions, and it is time that academic institutions face a turnaround in leadership. Normore (2010) highlights that higher education institutes hold greater influences on the lives of students in the future, in relation to the university academy and the society at large. Therefore, leadership practices considered to be ethical and of value should be taught and implemented at this stage of the students lives (Herman &Marlowe, 2005). Normore’s (2010) observation aligns with that of Boyum (2008) and Shugart (1999) concerning service to the individual and the society.
The component of service to the society was stressed by Robert Greenleaf (Boyum, 1998) an outstanding philosopher in the work of servant-leadership. If these qualities of leadership can enable the higher education institutes to overcome challenges in the 21st century, and place themselves in better positions to achieve their visions in the future; and if these qualities are innate in the servant-leaders, (Wis, 2002) then it is time that higher education institutions embrace servant-leadership in actual practice.
Many educational leaders admit that these are tough economic times, and coping with such time require a change of management styles at the institutions (Negron, 2010). However, there are no significant changes embraced in terms of attaining a leadership style that can enable higher education institutes cope with the situation. Negron (2010) reviews the quotations of various personalities like policy makers, philanthropists and university presidents among others where the common agenda was to initiate campaign leadership that calls for structures which fit in today’s society.
A 2008 study by Waks is illustrated by Ellet (2010) which involved two dozens of influential educational philosophers who were willing to write about their early and current experiences in the field of education, through a semi-structured and open-ended questions interview prepared by Waks (2008). The purpose was to find out the rationale under which a concept is determined through empirical research. The educators point on the importance of using conceptual analysis through critical thinking for the purpose of developing and defending educational goals that are of importance.
This means that the students’ rights to quality education despite the propriety expectancy of the institution must be upheld. Students need to be equipped with knowledge and skills that will enable them to survive well in the society as well as contribute to the society’s development. Importantly, students need to be equipped with good leadership skills to enable them become good leaders after their teachers (Moore & Berry, 2010; Bowman, 2005). This can only be achieved if there a high coordination and mutual corporation between the associates, superiors and subordinates of the institution.
Together they can identify the requirements of the students at the present era and sort out the kind of curricular to be incorporated in the education system. However, where self-interests exceed the societal expectation, it will be difficult to come up with honest, visionary strategies that will benefit students and the community. Servant-leadership therefore requires that the leader be grounded in values (Boyum, 2008) as already stated. A leader who foregoes his desire to make a lot of money at the expense of the kind of education delivered on the universities.
A leader filled with awareness and is able to reconcile the education system with the changing environment. A leader who empathizes with the followers’ situation and is able to make it up to them, that is a leader who is proud to see others excel as a result of the leadership tactics. Hawkins (2009) reports that there is a demand for new community college leaders as the elder ones retire, but the issue of contention is, how well are these new leaders prepared for the task of quality leadership (Moore & Berry, 2010).
Although servant-leadership has not garnered substantial empirical evidence to showcase its utilization in educational leadership, there are existing isolated cases of servant- leadership, known to benefit the institution and therefore highly regarded. Richardson (2008) records an interview that reflects a servant-leader. Lisa Harrold, an emerging leader in Steger School District indiscriminately engages both teachers and students towards attaining their goals. Teachers are provided for all the requirements needed to help students achieve their goals at high levels despite the students’ weaknesses.
Crippen (2005b. ) points on the changed leadership style in University of Manitoba. Servant-leadership as indicated by the author can enable schools attain democratization which many schools are adopting. Crippen (2005a, b. ) recommends that schools incorporate servant-leadership through first, reading, discussing and analyzing Greenleaf’s concept of a servant-leader. Secondly, those schools can incorporate the ten qualities of servant-leadership in the development of the school plans. Importantly, the society should be considered in the leadership and development programs of schools.
SanFacon and Spears (2010) are proprietors who value servant-leadership. In their work, they describe, three domineering components of servant-leadership; first, the motive behind the leadership process (what is the intention of serving people? ). Second, they state that servant- leadership is defined by the means of achieving the intentions, and third; servant-leadership focuses on the end (that is, the outcome of the leadership process). Changes bring the desire to change leadership styles in the organizations depending on the prevailing circumstance.
Globalization and general advancement in knowledge and technology require that educational systems impart students with skills and knowledge that will enable them suit in the current society and meet its needs. Greenleaf’s model of servant-leadership is believed to include the necessities that higher education facilities require to educate the future generation. However, schools have been known to literally propose servant-leadership for their organizations but never practice it in reality. Servant-leadership is based on moral authority, and unlike transactional leadership, servant-leadership warrants a proactive rather than a control leader.
Servant-leadership is based first on serving others before self, unlike in transformational leadership. Teachers who are servants are highly regarded because of the transformation of their quality work to their students and the society at large. Changes are taking place, and the old generation of teachers is going into retire. The society is at risk of losing virtuous leaders if servant-leadership is not embraced in reality in the school curricular. There is a wake up call for school leaders to stimulate the innate leadership qualities in teachers and students.
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