Although some models of leadership such as emotional intelligence or change leadership or visionary leadership tend to focus on a single dimension of leadership, other models, such as spiritual leadership and servant leadership, are much broader in their scope. Servant leadership is a model which has been researched and applied in organizations for over thrity years. And it is one that has become popular because of its focus on and ability to help create value for all of the stakeholders in an organization including the envirionment and society. The model is based on a value of serving the greater good. Rober Greenleaf, who worked in organizations such as AT&T, proposed this model which is based on his belief that leaders should take action to build a better society.
Greenleaf's (1977) defined servant leaders as those who believed they must put other people's needs and interests about their own needs and interests. And from this belief came the foundation for his leadership paradox: The primary motive for a servant leader is not to lead, but to serve (Greenleaf, 1977). Based on this focus of service followers were likely to "grow healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, and more likely themselves to become servants" (Greenleaf, 1977, p. 13-14). And at the same time these leaders saw themselves as stewards or trustees of an organization's resources (Sendjaya, 2002). They were willing to be both responsible and accountable for these resources.
The model of servant leadership has been refined by some of Greenleaf's followers such as Larry Spears (President & CEO for the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership) who have defined the characteristics of servant leaders Some of these characteristics, identified in an interview with James Dittmar (2006), were foresight, listening, and persuasion. The development of the servant leadership model and the dimensions behind it were in part a reflection of Greenleaf's worldview. This worldview was influenced by many different factors such as his reading of the Journey to the East and his personal experience as a Quaker. From a philosophical perspective he believed in the Socratic method as an approach to learning and teaching. Often he would use the Socratic method answering a question with a question (Dittmar, 2006). Although servant leadership is often associated with Christian beliefs, the beliefs and practice of servant-leadership are congruent with any individual faith or philosophies that help shape a person's worldview.