Leadership and Service Learning
These notes are based on Bob Terry’s Authentic Leadership (Jossey-Bass, 1993), although I have added some other
There are 7 types of leadership theory:
- Trait: Some theories stress the inborn or
acquired personality characteristics of leaders. From this perspective, leaders are born
or made young; personality is destiny.
This perspective has the strength of focusing on
knowledge—self-knowledge and astute judgment of others.
- Situational: In these theories, leadership is a
dynamic interaction between people and the situation. Some people are better suited to lead in
some situations and not in others (for example, one person in a team might
be good at keeping the team focused on the task at hand while another
might be good at keeping the group motivated or minimizing tensions). This approach has the advantage of
focusing on sensitivity to the shifting context within which a leader
- Organizational: In these theories, leadership comes from
position in the organization (there is a saying in the military,
“You are saluting the uniform, not the person inside
it”). These theories can
focus on the knowledge, skills, abilities and experiences that an
individual will need to arrive at a leadership position, or on the
characteristics which are best suited to lead an organization at a
particular stage in its existence (for example, some people are great at
generating new ideas and getting things started, but get bored once it
gets down to routine “production”). This approach has the advantage of
encouraging organizational astuteness in leaders.
- Power: Power theories are of two
types—“power over” (building influence and support to
accomplish what one wishes) and “power with” (shared and
forward movement in a collective effort).
This approach has the advantage of developing political savvy.
- Vision: In these theories, the leader is the one
who can articulate the vision, whether by successfully extrapolating
future trends or by creating a motivational vision. This approach focuses on creating a
sense of direction for the group or organization.
- Ethical: In these views, leadership comes from
meeting people’s needs and raising the level of moral reasoning in
the process. It is rooted in
integrity, both personal and organizational. This approach focuses on clarity and
Leadership: Terry argues that
all six of the previous approaches have their merits, but none are
sufficient by themselves. He
defines authentic leadership as
“the courage to bring about authentic action in the commons.”
- “authentic”—both true (abstract) and real
(concrete); facing differences openly, embracing fears, living into a
- “action”—engagement with life; not
reducible to skills (but it is skillful); not passive or reactive.
the commons”—public interaction in a world of differences;
working in the commons for the common good
Terry also developed a model for leaders who want to
diagnose and solve problems within their organizations. It works like this:
are four interdependent dimensions of any organization:
- Mission (purpose,
direction, vision of the future)
(expenditure of energy, activity of making and keeping decisions)
(form, plan, recurring patterns of activity)
(anything that can get distributed)
dimensions are related in a hierarchical fashion, based on
Power energizes & modifies structure
Structure allocates resources
Resources limit structure
Structure curtails power
Power restricts mission
- If you
perceive a particular dimensions to be the root
of a problem, its fundamental source is probably the level up in the
hierarchy (e.g., if you perceive the problem to be structural, it is
probably a power difficulty).
- It is
the natural tendency of leaders to attempt to solve problems by going down
the hierarchy (e.g., if you perceive a structural problem, your first
instinct is to throw more resources at it).
Another significant thinker about leadership, Robert
Greenleaf (Servant Leadership, Paulist Press, 1970), developed the idea of the leader as a
person of humility and compassion, whose first concern is for the people she or
he is leading rather than for one’s own status. Interestingly, he came to these ideas from
his experiences in his career at AT&T.
“The servant-leader is servant first… It begins
with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to
lead. He or she is sharply different
from the person who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an
unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions. For such it will be a later choice to serve
– after leadership is established…..
“The difference manifest itself in the care taken by the
servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are
being served. The best test, and
difficult to administer, is: do those served grow as persons; do they, while
being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely
themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged
in society; will they benefit, or, at least, will they not be further
Greenleaf’s ideas are strongly influenced by Christian
teachings (one of the traditional titles of the Pope is servus servorum populi—“servant
of the servants of the people”).
His ideas have inspired others to form the Greenleaf
Center for Servant Leadership.
Finally, Richard Leider argues
that the essence of leadership is self-leadership. Change begins with oneself. He offers 20 tips for accomplishing this (in Leader of the Future, 1996):
quality of leader is reflected in relationships with others; be clear
about your values because they reveal who you really are as a leader;
recognize your stress level.
have choices; the willingness to exercise our choices is the source of a
leader’s energy; gain control where you can.
your addictions, so as not to be driven by others’ expectations;
balance your life-style.
change comes from changing your mental maps; spend at least 15 minutes a
day reflecting on the big picture.
your leadership based on your own complete records, rather than anyone
else’s partial, incomplete records; do what you love.
your leadership talents; focus on strengths and manage weaknesses.
by what criteria you want your legacy measured; have a mentor.
reinvent yourself, realize that satisfaction always leads to
dissatisfaction; challenge your comfort zone.
a solid support system; create a personal board of directors.
the risk to initiate honest and creative face-to-face dialogue.
know that there is something else you could do; develop a personal Plan B
even before Plan A is achieved.
control of your calendar; picture an ideal week.
make the important life decisions, then make the career decisions; have regular
waste you most valuable currency—time; blend personal and work
a personal purpose statement; “Why did I get up this morning?
consistent contact with a higher power greater than yourself; find a
from a clear, personal sense of purpose creates courage, and real courage
attracts real followers.
is doing little things consistently; leadership is built or destroyed by
small day-to-day things that become a pattern.
comes from reactive living; stress can break you down or energize
you—the difference is how you perceive it.
are attracted to what is celebrated; lighten up.
© 2002 A.J.Filipovitch
Revised 14 May 2010