Spirit Is of the Essence
Topic: Justice, Vision, & Leadership
We simply are not giving the maturing help to young people that is well within our means to do. Instead, we are acting on the principle that knowledge, not the spirit, is power. Knowledge is but a tool. The spirit is of the essence.
Robert K. Greenleaf(1904-1990) Civil Religion, Civil Society
Robert K. Greenleaf (1904–1990) was the founder of the modern Servant leadership movement and the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership.
Greenleaf, Robert K. The Power of Servant Leadership: a Series of Addresses and a Personal Testimony. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 1998, [Robert K. Greenleaf, The Power of Servant-Leadership, Vision for Our Times: Where Is It?]
Robert K. Greenleaf
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Robert K. Greenleaf, The Servant As Leader (Excerpt)
Greenleaf’s seminal essay The Servant as Leader was published in 1970. In it, he proposed that the best leaders were servants first, and the key tools for a servant-leader included listening, persuasion, access to intuition and foresight, use of language, and pragmatic measurements of outcomes. In the next four years, two more essays explored ideas that an entire institution—and a society—could act as servant, and that trustees should act as servants. In 1976, Paulist Press published Servant Leadership, a book that combined these and other essays. Greenleaf always claimed that although he was informed by the Judeo-Christian ethic (he became a Quaker in mid-life), servant leadership was for people of all faiths and all institutions, secular and religious. He knew that he was not a perfect servant-leader, but it was his ideal, and the arc of his life bent in that direction.
Along the way, Bob and Esther made friends with luminaries of their day like Rabbi Abraham Heschel, Norman Vincent Peale, Peter Drucker, Jungian analyst Ira Progoff , semanticist Alfred Korzybski, and hundreds of others. Bob loved to sing bass, attend lectures and concerts, play the recorder, read, fly giant kites, and take and develop pictures. His work and writings continue to have an impact on fields as diverse as systems thinking, management, leadership, organizational development, religion, assessment and evaluation, and a baker’s dozen other disciplines. Greenleaf, however, did not describe himself a philosopher, academic, theologian or writer, but as a businessman and a seeker. He died in 1990 and is buried in Terre Haute, Indiana, with an epitaph that shows his wit: “Potentially a good plumber; ruined by a sophisticated education.”
–Don M. Frick [The biographer of Robert K. Greenleaf].
Vision for Our Times: Where Is It? [Excerpt from Robert K. Greenleaf’s The Power of Servant-Leadership]
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