Larry C. Spears (President & CEO, The Spears Center for Servant-Leadership) wrote on July 6, 2011:

I have just read your reviews of Dan Ebner’s Servant Leadership Models for Your Parish and of Margaret John Kelly’s chapter on “Leadership” in The Concise Guide for Catholic Church Management.

Regarding your review of Dan Ebner’s book—

  • I have read his book, “Servant Leadership Models for your Parish,” and I think it is a very useful resource—not only for the Catholic Parish, but for churches in general.
  • While I am a Quaker (not a Catholic), I think his book is written in such a way as to be helpful to a variety of faith institutions.
  • I found myself generally nodding my head in agreement with your review of his book.
  • I certainly agree that the pastor who wants to be an effective servant-leader must also be a good manager.  I don’t think that being one precludes the other.

Regarding your review of Margaret John Kelly’s chapters—

  • I am sorry to say that I have not read The Concise Guide for Catholic Church Management.  There were a couple of things in your review of the chapter on “Leadership” that caught my attention, and that I may see somewhat differently.
  • First-and-foremost, I do not view authentic servant-leadership as a “style” of leadership that one may use or not use based upon a given situation.  Greenleaf is clear that servant-leadership (the-servant-as-leader) is a philosophy of life that puts serving others first, then leading out of that deep desire to serve.  In that way, servant-leadership may be seen as part of one’s authentic self.  That doesn’t mean that servant-leaders are perfect.
  • Regarding your comment about Kelly and Blanchard on whether a servant-leader would seldom call on another style:  Actually, I believe that Ken’s own thinking on this has evolved over the past thirty years.  See his book, “The Servant Leader.”  Also, my colleague Shann Ferch and I conducted an interview with Ken about eighteen months ago which underscores this.  I am attaching a link to one of the interview clips from that interview that may be found on YouTube.  Other segments from that interview can also be found there.
  • I am not familiar with Knapp on non-verbal communication.  I do know that Greenleaf wrote clearly and eloquently on the centrality of careful, receptive listening as being key for servant-leaders.  His writings on the importance of listening and other characteristics have been part of my own work over the years.
  • The reference to  “church managers” (drawing on the title of the publication on Church Management) is a reminder to me that, in my experience, there is a lack of leadership (servant-leadership) instruction and encouragement in every kind of management education (business, church, educational, healthcare, non-profit).  I believe it is useful to encourage managers to recognize that they are also leaders, and that this requires exercising a different set of muscles.  The explosion of MBA programs in recent decades has done little to raise the understanding and practice of ethics, values, and servant-leadership—and this is one reason why values-based leadership and servant-leadership are increasingly coming to the forefront.
  • Greenleaf was fond of talking about operationalizing (managing) and conceptualizing (leading) within organizations.  To the degree that we can encourage the development of more effective servant-leader-managers (those who are able to both care for and inspire others (as a servant-leader), and who also recognize that people and vision are at least as important as managing the financial bottom line, the better off I think we will be as a society.  Attached here is a link to the NBC Dateline piece on servant-leadership  that I was involved in a few years back, and which has some relevance to this point.

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