Robert K. Greenleaf’s research centered on the notion of servant leadership through his writings, his life, and his work. One of his books, The Servant as Leader was an introduction of servant leadership that came through his work at AT&T. Greenleaf initially started at AT&T as a lineman digging postholes and retired in 1964 as Director of Management Research. Over the years of work at At&T, Greenleaf observed decreased creativity and critical thinking in the workplace. He noticed that people were separating themselves from their work. What he saw was that people were yearning for a better work environment – a better way to connect the work life balance.
Greenleaf observed that people really wanted to align personal growth with their work. This was not a comfortably embraced concept by the workplace or education at the time. Therefore, after his retirement, Greenleaf began a second career, which lasted 25 years, as a consultant educating institutions, churches, and businesses. Greenleaf served as a consultant to major organizations, such as the American Foundation for Management Research, and Lilly Endowment Incorporation. Greenleaf gained valuable insight into management practices, challenges, and practitioner insight while working as a consultant. Because of these insights, Greenleaf started the Center for Applied Ethics in 1964, (renamed the Center for Servant Leadership in Indianapolis, Indiana). Here, he could study servant leadership in depth and write and about what he saw in the workplace. The notion of servant leadership emerged. Today, nearly 50 years later, servant leadership is gaining ground as a valid management and leadership style in the workplace. Indeed, everyone can be servant leaders – not just supervisors and managers.
The servant leader recognizes that the desire to serve comes from within. This innate feeling drives the servant leader to stay focused on the people and the success of the group or organization in which they are involved. I believe this internal consciousness is best exemplified through Otto Sharmer’s theory of Presencing (Theory U). Presencing is the act of connecting to the source of inspiration and will. It allows for the individual or group to go to the place of silence and allow the inner knowing to emerge. Servant leaders who practice the art of presencing are creating the proper mental environment conducive to creativity and profound insight while sensing the hidden sources of idea generation.
Servant leaders who use prescencing realize that it requires the tuning of three instruments: the open mind, the open heart, and the open will. This opening process is not passive but an active “sensing” together as a group. While an open heart allows us to see a situation from the whole, the open will enables us to begin to act from the emerging whole. From this place, a beautiful sense of an emerging future takes place and ideas flow like a river. This state of consciousness is likened to an athlete who is preparing for a game, or getting in the zone. Everyone at work can shift into this consciousness as everyone possesses minds, hearts, and wills.
Presencing is a new approach to essential leadership for the 21st century workplace. Individuals and organizations willing to do the hard work necessary to facilitate this type of leadership and its processes are positioned for heretofore unimaginable future of infinite possibilities.
Crystal J Davis is a servant leader, blogger, and researcher. She holds a Doctorate in Management specializing in Organizational Leadership. Dr. Davis is passionately engaged in Servant Leadership and selfless service to the nonprofit and public sectors having served both large and small organizations throughout her career and consulting business. Follow Crystal @DrDavis2126 (Twitter) and Lead.From.Within. (Facebook).
© Copyright 2015 ~Dr. Crystal J. Davis. All Rights Reserved.