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Jubilee Thought – The Queen as a ‘Servant’ Leader?

When asked to think of a good leader, most people name strong charismatic personalities, the inspiring, articulate types that paint a picture of a different world.

There are few people who have served their people and country for 60 years. I’m not a royalist, in fact in many ways the monarchy as an institution represents several of the negative characteristics that many organisations suffer from. But as an individual, it strikes me that the Queen has been dedicated, disciplined, and able to adjust, albeit slowly, to the changing times while holding on to traditional values which she believes are still important. She may not have shouted her thoughts and opinions from the rooftops, nor been a visionary. But she’s visible, we know what she stands for, and she’s consistent. Not exciting attributes, but important nevertheless.

Is she a servant leader though?  Peter Greenleaf, who coined the term, wrote:

The servant-leader is servant first… 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…

On that basis, I was inclined to feel favourably towards her as a servant leader. The Queen does certainly seem to have put her life in service of her country and people. But it’s difficult to judge when she herself lives in conditions far beyond the dreams of most people up and down the land. Which leads me to the next part of Greenleaf’s observation:

The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?

And at that point, I leave the judgement to you. Wishing you a restful, joyful weekend with friends and family. If the Jubilee does nothing else, it brings people together.

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