Many executives wrestle with the term SERVANT Leadership. The term servant, itself, disturbs many people otherwise advocating these principles. For example, in the landmark work “Good to Great” Jim Collins explained his team almost used the term “Servant Leader” instead of “Level 5 Leader” but feared it would be misinterpreted.

Executive Objecting with a Stop SignHere are some of the common misconceptions leading to these objections:

Servant Implies Slavery: Servant implies service to others. Slavery implies a sense of being owned by others. Servant Leadership is not slavery and the leader is not owned by those they serve.

Servant Implies Subservience: Subservient behavior implies unquestioning support. This is not Servant Leadership. In order to effectively serve others, you must often do what is unpopular with followers.

Focus on Followers: Many opponents of Servant Leadership think these leaders serve only their followers. The truth is a Servant Leader must focus on serving all stakeholders. These include followers, employees, customers, partners, investors, the community and more.

Religious Concept: As a Christian, I am proud of the fact that Servant Leadership principles are taught throughout The Bible.  A similar perspective exists across most major religions. However, the concept of Servant Leadership alone, is secular in nature.

Whatever the reason, most opponents of the term SERVANT Leadership have at least one of these misconceptions. Whatever your perspective, it is important to get the facts. Jim Collins was afraid people would have false preconceived notions. Here’s hoping this concern is not proliferated.

Question: What are other common objections or misconceptions of Servant Leadership?