Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Teacher: Servant Leader?

I like the Tuesday night #leadfromwithin chat because it opens my eyes to promising, positive avenues of leadership and work.

One night I was introduced to the idea of servant leadership.  Wikipedia defines servant leadership in the following way:

Servant leadership is both a leadership philosophy and set of leadership practices. Traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid.” By comparison, the servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.

As a teacher, I see myself as a "servant leader" who first serves my students and their families.  As a "servant leader" it is my job to build a strong, collaborative learning community--a learning community that includes positive, engaging learning endeavor, communication and care.

Wikipedia further explains that Robert Greenleaf coined the phrase, "servant leadership," and provides this explanation of service leadership:

Robert Greenleaf recognized that organizations as well as individuals could be servant-leaders. Indeed, he had great faith that servant-leader organizations could change the world. In his second major essay, The Institution as Servant, Greenleaf articulated what is often called the “credo.” There he said:
“This is my thesis: caring for persons, the more able and the less able serving each other, is the rock upon which a good society is built. Whereas, until recently, caring was largely person to person, now most of it is mediated through institutions – often large, complex, powerful, impersonal; not always competent; sometimes corrupt. If a better society is to be built, one that is more just and more loving, one that provides greater creative opportunity for its people, then the most open course is to raise both the capacity to serve and the very performance as servant of existing major institutions by new regenerative forces operating within them.” [1]

Greenleaf's words and research support what research today shows: caring, engaging and supportive environments promote success and a "good society."

Do you believe the role of teacher is a "servant leadership" role?

If so, as a "servant leader" who do you serve?

What does "servant leadership" look like in your classroom, work and school?

I tell students, I am here to serve you and help you learn all you can.  It's your job to ask questions, speak up and help me help you.  Those words put a new spin on classroom life--a positive, team spin that puts learners in the driver's seat of their education.