Former AT&T CEO Robert Greenleaf said it best with his statement: “servant leadership begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve—to serve first” (Dolan, 2013). The problem with leadership in organizations today is the lack of focus; or the lack of focus on serving, not just customers but the employees who are more than just the labor force but a partner in meeting organizational objectives. As the concept of servant leadership gains popularity among organizational leaders, it is important to note that Servant Leadership is not a new idea and though it may be “new” to the corporate organizational structure, there is one organizational structure which has always operated on this principle and that is non-profits, service organizations such as Boy Scout of America and academic institutions. It is important to expound that Servant Leadership is not just the simple act of serving but incorporating servitude into goals and objectives of organizational activities and procedures.
The goal of this study is to present how an organization’s mission statement or core values and vision statement plays a part in that organization’s practice and application of the principles of the organization’s mission and values as shown in its interaction with its employees, clients or customers, and stake-holders. The organization which will be the focus of this study, is my present employer, the University of Arkansas Community College-Hope in Hope, Arkansas. An ideological analysis will be conducted on the college’s mission statement to infer if the organization’s true core values and beliefs are reflected in the statement. Clues which will reveal the sincerity of the statement will be found in key words located in the statement, verbal evidence which will gleaned from personal interviews and testimonials from faculty, staff, administration and alumni. Using Likert’s principle of supportive relationships, it will a secondary goal to use the mission statement and evidence gathered from interviews and testimonials to deduce how the organization truly practices “participation” as classified by System IV, from the members and stakeholders of the organization (Eisenberg, Goodall and Tretheway, 2014).
Among the literature to support the thesis of this project, it is evident that many academic and non-profit organization’s use the principles of the Boy Scouts of America’s three pronged approach of service to “service to God, country, and community” (Rhom & Osula, 2013). It is an expectation that the manner in which the academic organization demonstrates true Servant Leadership will provide a framework for the corporate world to follow suit. The “bottom of the pyramid approach” taken by big corporations, which operated on ideal of raising poverty-stricken sectors of society by direct marketing tactics. Interestingly, academic institutions; especially community colleges have been operating on this ideal for many years by marketing the upgrading of skills to the under-served sector of the population (Gupta, 2013).
A non-academic source that I found particularly intriguing as I researched the topic of servant leadership is the book called The Servant by James C. Hunter and its application as a wake-up call for distant and faltering leaders. The book offers a haunting commentary on importance of serving and that the term serving means more than just giving but engaging, molding and shaping: http://www.jameshunter.com/books.htm.
Dolan, T. C. (2013). Aspirations of a servant leader. Healthcare Executive, 28(6), 30-38.
Eisenberg, E.M., & Goodall, H.L. & Tretheway, A. (2014). Organizational
communication:balancing creativity and constraint. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s Press.
Gupta, S. (2013). Serving the “Bottom of Pyramid” – A Servant Leadership Perspective. Journal
Of Leadership, Accountability & Ethics, 10(3), 98-106.
Rohm Jr., F. W., & Osula, B. (2013). Scouting and Servant Leadership in Cross-cultural
Perspective: An Exploratory Study. Journal Of Virtues & Leadership, 3(1), 26-42.