Entrepreneur and startup CEO John Eades offers a warning about “fake servant leadership” and the dangers it presents.
- Servant leadership is a leadership style coined by leadership expert Robert K. Greenleaf, where leaders empower others to bring the best out of their staff or team and put the needs of other people first.
- In a Monday op-ed for BNN Times, LearnLoft CEO John Eades warns of the rise of “fake servant leaders” and that a generation of toxic leaders has arisen attempting to use the tools of servant leadership for their own gain.
- These imitators “care about their interests first and foremost and give from their excess,” lacking the mark of true servant leaders.
- Authentic servant leaders lead through example and demonstrate the traits of empathy, humility, and curiosity in their actions.
Why It’s Important
Servant leadership has become a growing and popular concept in the leadership world since Greenleaf coined the term in his 1970 essay The Servant As Leader. Eades notes that the concept has become popular precisely because it is “precisely how people prefer to be led.” People want leaders who inspire them, empower them, and help build them up. Bad or toxic leaders do not have the ability to live out these concepts authentically.
“Many destructive, toxic, and or narcissistic people in leadership positions are intelligent, savvy, and have phenomenal manipulation skills. That’s not all; many are fun, believable, and have the gift of gab. So instead of demonstrating the overt signs of toxic leadership by forcing and mandating the behavior they desire, they have intentionally or unintentionally chosen the facade of being a fake servant leader,” says Eades.
Eades warns that employees and teammates should not be quick to judge their leaders and assume that they are fake servant leaders—as leadership is difficult and outward appearances may be deceiving. However, the key to true servant leadership is a transformed heart with the ability to care, coach, empower, encourage, and keep others accountable.
“The truth always finds a way out. While this wave of fake servant leaders may last, it’s more likely that the truth will emerge. Focus on how you are leading. Care about people, coach them well, empower them, hold each other accountable, and encourage them often. Then you will be on your way to authentic servant leadership,” he says.