“This book is

  a must read…”


-Ken Blanchard


Excerpts from Seven Pillars 



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 opportunities 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.

—Robert K. Greenleaf

Where to Start

Robert Greenleaf wrote, “Everything begins with the individual,” and throughout this book you have had an opportunity to “Ask Yourself” how the Seven Pillars of Servant Leadership may apply to your life. But Greenleaf also claimed that “organizations are how you get things done,” affirming that Servant Leadership requires both personal and communal efforts. Greenleaf believed that, given existing and available resources, we could evolve a more caring society if individuals and entire organizations acted as servants, with the organizations governed by trustees who not only held employees accountable for financial performance but also for mission and means.

The most common question we hear from clients is: “How do we implement Servant Leadership? Where is the road map?” The bad news is, there is no single map. The good news is, there is no single map! The geography of every organization varies too much to impose a detailed map from one to another. And there is more good news. As you survey your own organization and evolve a map that makes sense for you, you can still gain by studying the experience of others. That is a good place to begin.

Many efforts to implement Servant Leadership in organizations have fallen short due to impatience, incongruence, and a misunderstanding of the change process required to make it happen.

You can begin conversations around implementing Servant Leadership by reviewing each Pillar chapter and then meeting in small groups to “Ask Others” the questions related to that chapter. You can also share your responses to the quote that precedes each group of questions.

We suggest you appoint someone to keep track of the general flow of discussions, especially the items that emerge as points of consensus agreement.

This is how institutions that successfully implement Servant Leadership generally begin the process. Expect the small group conversations to take as much time as they need. Then, in the fullness of time when larger efforts are mounted to share Servant Leadership with everyone in the organization, a solid core of thoughtful, informed servants will be available to not only support the process but to act as Servant-Leader teachers.

Find out how to move your organization toward a servant-led culture, starting on Page 182.

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Seven Pillars of Servant Leadership

Practicing the Wisdom of Leading by Serving

James Sipe, PhD, LP

Don Frick, PhD