Servant Leadership, a Refreshing Idea

Leaders being servants is an idea both old and refreshingly new. I was introduced to the term servant leadership while talking about characteristics of good leadership with Ben Lichtenwalner last week at a South Haven bed and breakfast. Ben knows what he’s talking about. He has led in a variety of businesses and organizations and is currently the Senior Manager of Internet and eCommerce at Whirlpool. He has his own website at

Ben has found that sustainability is the difference between leadership styles he supports and those he does not. Non-serving leaders use fear, which can obtain success in the near term but often results in low morale and high turnover so success becomes unsustainable. Leaders who serve their stakeholders are servant leaders. He says to determine whether an action is that of a servant leader, just ask how it will impact all relevant stakeholders. “If it is not helping them, it is not serving them. If you’re not serving others, you’re not leading, you’re self serving.

My personal experience matches Ben’s observations. I believe servant leadership makes sense and try to use the principles in leading. I have experienced different types of leaders and know that good leaders help me contribute much more to the organization. Get ideas from his website, including a tool you can use to assess yourself or your boss. You might like “Cleaning Baby Poop Makes Great Leaders.”

Another servant leader site worth visiting is, started by Robert Greenleaf, a father of servant leadership. What kind of leader to you want to be?

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