A Research on Servant Leadership through the Interviewed Leader, Moses Charlton
The concept of servant leadership as a leadership Philosophy was developed by Robert Greenleaf in the year 1970 (D’Souza, 2004). As a leadership style, servant leadership emphasis on the people, i.e. the main objective of servant leadership is to empower the people and to ensure that the people are contented and able to fully exploit their potentials. For that reason, the servant leader shares his power with the people and puts the needs of the people first and helps his subordinates to fully develop their potentials.
The servant leader therefore views himself/herself as a servant of the people mandated by the people to lead them and to help them to exploit their potentials and be able to achieve their goals in life. This paper is an Interview project synthesis. The paper is composed of two parts. The first part is the summary of the interview on servant leadership that was carried out on Moses Charlton, chairman of a Catholic parish council based in Dallas Texas, while the second part is an evaluation of what has been learnt in the interview, and a synthesis of this information into a personal philosophy of leadership.
The interviewee said that he is a trained human resource manager. He said that he has a master’s degree in human resource management. He also said that he has attended various courses on leadership in the Catholic church and he is therefore well versed with leadership in the church. On his experience in leadership, the interviewee said that he has served as a human resource manager in various companies for a period of thirty years, before his retirement. Mr Charlton therefore said that he has extensive knowledge of leadership both in the cooperate world and also in the church.
Charlton’s responsibilities as the chairman of Catholic Parish council in Dallas Texas. As the chairman of parish council, Mr. Charlton is first and foremost, the head of the parish council and he is the one who chairs all the meetings of the parish council in the parish. Charlton also is in charge of all development projects in the parish; he oversees all the development projects in the parish. Mr Charlton also is the coordinator of all the activities in the parish, and he is therefore mandated to ensure that all the activities in the parish run smoothly in accordance with the program of the parish.
On his philosophy of leadership, Charlton said that he is a servant leader. And when I asked him what he understands the servant leadership to be, he said that, servant leadership is a style of leadership whereby the leader views himself not as the master or as the boss of the people, but rather as the servant, the steward, or the shepherd of the people. Charlton went on to say that the guiding principle of servant leadership is to treat people not merely as means to achieve some objective, but rather to see the people as the very objective or the goal of leadership. He went on to explain that, although in leadership making profits for the organisation is of course one of the goals of leadership, monetary profits however should not be made at the expense of the lives of the people/ workers.
He said that for him, the primary objective of leadership is to empower his subordinates and to ensure that they are contented and to ensure that he has given them conducive environment and means to fully exploit their potentials. He went on to argue that, although at fast glance servant leadership may seen as a leadership style that will lead to massive losses in the organisation, servant leadership actually leads to making an organisation successful and the organisation will be able to achieve its goals. Charlton said that the reason for this is that, when the workers are empowered, motivated, and made to feel loved and cared for, they will commit themselves more to the goals and the objectives of the organisation and this will lead to higher productivity in the organisation.
Charlton concluded his explanation of his philosophy of leadership by saying that as the chairman of the parish council, he views his main objective as the chairman of the parish council as to guide his people to live in accordance with the will of their creator, God. And he said that he accomplishes this mission by being a role model to the people and empowering them to achieve their best in whatever capacity that they serve in the parish. Charlton said that he leads by influencing, listening, guiding, and being a role model to the parishioners that he leads.
One of the conspicuous traits exhibited by Charlton is humility. As I interviewed him, I couldn’t help noticing and admiring his humility, Charlton talked humbly and he answered all my questions with humility and simplicity. Although he has extensive leadership experience, Charlton did not show off this experience and he explained everything to me in very simple terms. The second leadership quality that I saw in Charlton is respect and love for all people.
Although Charlton is elderly and my senior in many respects, he however treated me with a lot of respect and love, he actually made me to feel respected; I felt completely at home with him. The trait of respect and love for all people also came out clearly when Charlton was explaining how leaders ought to treat their subordinates, Charlton was quite emphatic that the people are the real masters and the leaders should treat them with a lot of respect and love and not to lord over them. The third leadership characteristic that I noticed and admired in Charlton was passion and zeal for his work. When narrating his experiences in leadership, Charlton beamed with happiness as he reminisced the great feats that he had achieved in leadership owing to his great passion and zeal to achieve the organisation’s goals and objectives.
Charlton also narrated to me a number of ambitious projects that he had in mind for the Catholic parish that he was leading. Charlton therefore exhibited the trait of passion in a very conspicuous manner. The forth leadership characteristic exhibited by Charlton was fear of God and prayerfulness. In explaining his roles as the chairman of the Catholic parish council, Charlton repeated several times how he views himself as the steward of God, mandated to lead God’s people to live in accordance with the will of God. Charlton also talked of how he prays very hard for the people that he leads. Charlton therefore exhibited this characteristic of commitment to his religious faith in a very clear manner.
On his view of power, Charlton was quite categorical that power comes from God and that God is the real giver of power. Charlton therefore said that he views himself as a God’s steward, given responsibility by God to shepherd His people. Charlton therefore was of the view that the power that his leadership position had given him is not something to show off for or to use for his selfish mean, but rather it’s a responsibility to serve other people by leading them in accordance with the will of God.
As a leader, Charlton said that he demonstrates his power in a very humble way, by influencing the people to act in the right way, rather than by imposing things on them, he also said that he listens to his people well and enables the people to participate in the leadership of the parish. But Charlton was crystal clear that in some instances, he is very assertive because it is the responsibility of the leader to lead the people and therefore in some instances the leaders have to use their powers and to be assertive. Charlton however said that being assertive does not imply being dictatorial. He said that being assertive is a way of giving people clear directions when they are faced with unclear situations.
On decision making, Charlton said that leaders should not be domineering and make decisions solely. Charlton said that he is fully supportive of participative decision making whereby all the stake-holders of the organisation that one is running is given an opportunity to contribute in the decision making of the organisation. Charlton said that involving others in decision making is especially important in servant leadership because, in servant leadership, the people that one is dealing and working with are the real objective and the goal of the organisation. Involving others in decision making therefore is one of the main pillars of the concept of servant leadership.
Charlton said that for his part, he always actively involves others in decision making of the parish that he runs. He said that although he is the chairman of the parish council, the parish council as whole is the real decision making body of the parish, and not the chairman alone. Charlton therefore said that as the chairman of the parish council, he facilitates decision making of the parish council, but he does not make the decisions of the parish alone. Charlton said that decisions in the parish are made through deliberations among the various parish council members till a decision is arrived at. He therefore said that he is merely one of the decision makers in the parish council.
On helping his parish to attain its goal, Charlton said that his style of leadership is vision- driven. He said that as a leader, he has big visions and ambitions for his parish. And in order for his people to own up and to be committed to the goals and the objectives of the parish, Charlton said that he inspires the people by acting as the role model for the people by being very committed to the goals and the objectives of the parish. Through this style of leadership, Charlton said that he has been very successful in influencing people to commit themselves to the goals and the objectives of the parish.
Charlton also said that through showing care and love for the members of the parish, and also through motivating and empowering them through different means, the people have developed a sense of belonging and this has made the people to commit themselves to the goals and the objectives of the parish more. Charlton therefore said that, through this style of leadership, he has been quite successful in leading his people in the parish to achieve the goals and the objectives of the parish.
On conflict resolutions, Charlton said that although servant leadership style is more participative and people-focused, conflicts however are bound to arise and the leader must be prepared on how to resolve such conflicts. On the method that he uses to resolve a conflict, Charlton said that, if the conflict has arisen due to a certain mistake that he has made, the first action that he takes is to take responsibility of his mistakes, and then to sincerely apologize to the people for the mistake. Charlton said that, throughout the time that he has been in leadership, he has found this method of resolving conflicts quite effective. If the conflicts have, however, arisen due to the mistakes of other people, Charlton said that he resolves the conflicts accordingly depending on the situation and the circumstances. He said that the main method that he used to resolve conflicts is to first investigate and to find out the main cause(s) of the conflict and then to look for the appropriate method of resolving the conflict.
Charlton said that one of the common methods that he uses to resolve conflict is calling upon the people who have caused the conflicts to take responsibility for their actions and to apologize or to resign if their actions are so scandalous. Charlton said that the second conflict resolution method that he uses is taking disciplinary action upon those who have caused the conflict in the organization through their unethical and unacceptable behaviour in the organisation.
An Evaluation of what has been learnt in the Interview and A synthesis of the Information into a personal view of Leadership. An evaluation of the information that we have got from Charlton’s interview shows that Charlton is a thorough going servant leader. In this interview, Charlton has enumerated the core principles of the concept of servant leadership. For instance, on his personal philosophy of leadership, Charlton says expressly that he is a servant leader, and he goes on to define servant leadership as a form of leadership in which the leader, “views himself not as the master or as the boss of the people, but rather as the servant, the steward, or the shepherd of the people”.
This definition of leadership is perfectly in conformity with the conventional definition of leadership (D, Souza, 2004). On his view of power and how he uses his power as a servant leader, Charlton has the following views,” power comes from God and God is the real giver of power”. This view of power is actually the hallmark of servant leadership. Servant leadership is based on the understanding that leadership powers come from God, and that leaders are merely sternwards of God. And on how he involves other people in making decision, Charlton says the following, “leaders should not be domineering and make decisions solely”.
This view of Charlton also is perfectly in line with the participative nature of servant leadership whereby all the stake-holders of an organisation are given an opportunity to contribute in the decision making of the organisation. In nutshell, the information that we get in this interview are perfectly in line with servant leadership as a style of leadership. Charlton therefore is a servant leader and he exercises the principles of servant leadership in whatever position of leadership he finds himself in.
I can identify with Charlton as a leader because Charlton embodies the very principles of good leadership that I hold dear: Charlton is humble, loving and respectful, passionate in his work, and God-fearing. To me, these are the most important qualities that every leader should have.
The aspect of leadership that I will integrate into my practice of leadership, after the analysis of this interview, is taking up responsibility for my mistakes as a mean of resolving conflicts. I find it quite humbling for a leader to take responsibilities for their mistakes; I find this as a very good way of resolving conflicts that have arisen due to the leader’s mistake.
What I have taken away from the interview regarding my understanding of leadership is that, leadership is not a simple responsibility. Prior to this interview, I had a rather simple view of leadership as not being a very demanding responsibility. But after the interview, I have discarded this notion and now I know that leadership is a quite demanding task.