Scanlon Servant Leadership

Robeert GreenleafRobert Greenleaf

In 1970 Robert K. Greenleaf, a retired AT&T executive, coined the term “servant leadership” in his classic publication, The Servant as Leader. In the years since, a growing number of people and organizations have embraced the idea and are putting it into practice.Companies like Starbucks, Southwest Airlines, The Men’s Wearhouse, Vanguard, Synovus and TDIndustries have risen to greatness by focusing on serving others. Thought leaders including Larry Spears, Peter Senge (The Fifth Discipline), Warren Bennis (On Leadership), Stephen Covey (The 8th Habit), and Margaret Wheatley (Leadership and the New Science) have focused upon the development of servant-leaders through their writings and teachings.

Greenleaf said:

It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.

Greenleaf's many writings and the work of Larry Spears and the Larry Spears Center for Servant Leadership launched a worldwide movement for better leadership.  Today conferences are held throughout the world.

The philosophy of servant-leadership is increasingly viewed as a solid foundation for many businesses and organizations. Some servant-led companies have taken it a step further and utilize the framework of the Scanlon EPIC principles (Equity, Participation, Identity, and Competence) as a particular expression of servant-leadership. In so doing, they are helping to create the “better, more caring world,” that Robert K. Greenleaf urged all of us to seek.  Larry Spears



Articles about Scanlon and/or Servant Leadership


Why Scanlon Matters by Larry Spears, Paul Davis, Warren Bennis and Max DePree

Leadership from Theory to Action by Paul Davis

Presentation at Servant Leadership Conference by Dwane Baumgardner

The Council of Equals Presentation by Larry Spears and George SanFacon

Within your Reach: The Beatitudes in Business and Every Day Life by Bill Bottum


Dateline On Servant Leadership with Larry Spears