The chief, who seeks to show his professionalism and effectiveness, should be the leader for his or her team. Nevertheless, there is no universal answer to the question of what qualities the leader should have since everyone adapts to circumstances and chooses their own leading style. One of these types – servant leadership, has recently gained popularity, as it aims to ensure the common good. However, the problem of whether this philosophy can be applied everywhere remains open. For example, the army is significantly different from civilian companies, enterprises, and other similar organizations. This structure has a clear hierarchy, doctrines, and requirements for its subordinates and commander. Perhaps, regardless of the severity of the demands, army leaders can accept, if not wholly, then partly the servant leader’s qualities.
The term servant leadership can mislead by giving the impression that the person who chose this style seeks to please everyone or can only be a church leader. The reason for this misunderstanding is the traditional perception of leaders as independent and powerful individuals achieving their goals and the contradiction this impression causes between leading and serving others. However, this philosophy’s roots can be found in examples of prominent figures of ancient times, for example, Mahatma Gandhi or even Jesus (Quinn and Bryant 78). The term itself is newer – Robert Greenleaf introduced it in the second half of the last century (Gain and Bryant 101). This theory assumes that the leader will put his or her people and their interests at the center of own attention and help them develop, which in turn leads to the achievement of common goals.
The servant leaders must have certain qualities and characteristics influencing their behavior. Greenleaf’s followers defined ten of them: listening, awareness, persuasion, empathy, healing, stewardship, building community, conceptualization, commitment to the growth of people, and foresight (Griffing para. 3). In the harsh conditions of the army hierarchy, it is not easy to imagine how the commander uses most of them. Gain and Bryant, for example, believe that it is not worth replacing the existing Army Requirements Model with servant leadership (104). However, Kim notes the generally positive impact of such a philosophy on army structures, particularly on the loyalty of soldiers (1236). Moreover, Griffing analyzed and cited successful examples of outstanding army leaders for each of the characteristics (para. 4-13). Thus, researchers prove that servant leadership is applicable even in army conditions.
The use of the mentioned ten qualities of a servant leader can have beneficial consequences for any organization. For example, the usefulness of listening has long been known. This quality helps to take into account all known aspects for taking a decision and make changes if necessary. In army conditions, these may be constructive proposals from subordinates – the commander is not obliged to implement them but can draw a conclusion. Awareness is closely related to listening – by receiving and analyzing information, the leader can improve the situation. In order not only to respect the soldiers’ point of view but to remain influential and authoritative for them, the leader must be convincing. The capacity for persuasion contributes not only to the strict execution of orders but also to the loyalty of soldiers than if they led only by fear of the chief.
Such quality as empathy is essential for the army’s image when interacting with civilians, while leaders set an example for their soldiers. Using empathy, they will appear not insensitive executors of orders but defenders of peace. Besides protecting civilians from military threats, army representatives often take care of their well-being. For example, the soldiers help to eliminate the consequences of natural disasters, in this way, not only showing empathy but also building community. Leaders can apply compassion, also together with healing, to strengthen the morale of subordinates. For example, even a short visit to wounded soldiers can give them strength and motivation for a quick recovery after a battle. Leaders care for and plan resources significant for joint work, such as weapons or, under challenging conditions, food supplies for soldiers. In this way, through a responsible attitude, they demonstrate stewardship.
Finally, the army leaders must be an excellent strategists for the successful performance of their duties. Conceptualization, at the same time, assumes a comprehensive vision of prospects, which makes it possible not to miss crucial aspects in completing tasks. Not the last role in strategy building is taken by foresight and preventing problems before they arise based on experience and knowledge. Commitment to the growth of people will provide a leader with a professional team that will help implement any strategy.
Summing up, servant leadership involves not just the management of people, but the respect and embodiment of their interests. As a result of this style application, leaders receive loyalty and more significant commitment from their subordinates, which implies joint success. The specificity of the hierarchy structure in the army, upon the first impression, does not seem favorable for applying this philosophy. Nevertheless, research and analysis of the servant leaders’ characteristics demonstrate its success in the military sphere. Such results do not mean that the existing doctrine of leadership in the army should be replaced. However, the use of these qualities by leaders in critical situations can have a positive effect.
Gain, Douglas, and Phil C. Bryant. “The Men or the Mission: Can an Army of Servants become an Army of Servant Leaders?.” Servant Leadership: Theory & Practice, vol. 7, no. 1, 2020: 89-109. Web.
Griffing, A. “Servant Leadership: Ten Military Figures who Got It Right.” NCO Journal, 2019. Web.
Kim, Jungin. “The Emergence of Servant Leadership and Its Effectiveness in Bureaucratic Organizations.” International Journal of Manpower, vol. 41, no. 8, 2020: 1235-1249. Web.
Quinn, Ian, and Phil C. Bryant. “How Christian Should an Army Officer Be? The Answer may Lie in Servant Leadership.” Servant Leadership: Theory & Practice, vol. 6, no.1, 2019: 75-89. Web.