Despite being newly identified in the research field, authentic leadership and servant leadership have been practiced for thousands of years, primarily in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ (McCabe, 2008, p. 33).
A central teaching of Jesus during his ministry was authentic and servant leadership. In Mark 10:42-45 Jesus teaches his disciples the difference between true leadership (Richards, 1987, p. 618) and the leadership they had seen modeled. Jesus’ word choice indicates he was calling them to the status of a house servant who has forfeited all rights in order to serve others (Walvoord, 1985). This life of service was reflective of authentic and servant leadership, calling them to an emptying of themselves to place others first over their own interests, while he himself prepared to go to the cross putting them and the whole world as a priority.
Greenleaf brought the phrase ‘servant leadership’ to the world of research and leadership study. (Ayers, 2006, p.8) Servant leadership states that leaders focus their attention on the needs of followers, the empowerment of followers, and the assistance of followers towards their full human capacities (Northouse, 2013, p. 248). Authentic leadership is more focused on the authenticity of the leader and the interpersonal approach a leader has with followers (Northouse, 2013, p. 254). Both authentic and servant leadership shun an egotistical approach of personal agendas at the expense of the followers. Servant leadership makes a conscious decision to serve first, placing the good of the followers over the interests of the leader. (Northouse, 2013, p.248) Authentic leadership in a similar fashion acts as a model of leadership for followers choosing to ask of them only what the leader is willing to do (Irving, 2011, p. 122), while also placing the organization and followers first (Faulhaber, 2007, p. 137).
Ayers, M. (2006). Towards a Theology of Leadership. Journal of Biblical Perspectives in Leadership, 1(1), 3–27.
Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983). The Bible knowledge commentary: an exposition of the scriptures. (J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck, Eds.). Wheaton, Ill: Victor Books.
Faulhaber, J. (2007). The Role of Tribulation and Virtue in Creativity: A Sacred Texture Analysis of 1 Peter. Journal of Biblical Perspectives in Leadership, 1(2), 135–147.
Irving, J. A. (2011). Leadership Reflection: A Model for Effective Servant Leadership Practice: A Biblically-Consistent and Research-Based Approach to Leadership. Journal of Biblical Perspectives in Leadership, 3(2), 118–128.
McCabe, L. (2008). Jesus As Agent of Change: Transformational and Authentic Leadership in John 21. Journal of Biblical Perspectives in Leadership, Volume 2(No. 1), 32–43.
Northouse, P. G. (2013). Leadership: theory and practice (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks: SAGE.
Richards, L. (1987). The Teacher’s Commentary. Wheaton, Ill: Victor Books.