Why Leaders Choose to be Servants First

Posted by: Ryan Langston - 12.22.2016 - 9:34 am

“The servant as leader always empathizes, always accepts the person but sometimes refuses to accept some of the person’s effort or performance as good enough.”

-Robert Greenleaf, The Servant as Leader

The key element to growing a great company and business, whether small and local or a large corporation, is having great leadership. In the scope of human nature there are a variety of qualities that leaders embody while choosing a leadership style. For instance, many leaders have a vision, are often charismatic, have an ability to train others and think strategically, and understand the power of influence. How a leader decides to utilize these qualities is what defines the company culture.

There are many different styles of leadership and it has been long debated which type of leadership is the most effective. Most leadership styles can be segmented into three categories: Authoritative, Participative, and Servant.


  • Relies heavily on power and control
  • Power is based on the position, not the individual
  • Many government entities and large corporations use this style of leadership


  • Share in training and duties of team to accomplish goals
  • Do not micromanage but still have authority when needed
  • Follow the status quo and work within the rules


  • Put the needs of others first
  • Responds to problems by listening first
  • Gains leadership through trust helping others

The idea of Servant Leadership is centuries old. In the fifth century BC Lao-Tzu maintained that "The highest type of ruler is one of whose existence the people are barely aware…. When his task is accomplished and things have been completed, all the people say, 'We ourselves have achieved it!'" The evolution of Servant Leadership as an idea put into practice continues to be debated in its effectiveness. Jim Eskett, Professor Emeritus of Harvard Business School, pondered its lack of prevalence in companies today in this interesting Working Knowledge article, citing Robert Greenleaf’s "The Servant as Leader" which emerged as a groundbreaking theory in the 1970s.

Since its inception, Goosehead Insurance has selected to use Servant Leadership as its driving force for growth. As one of the largest independent insurance agencies in the country in just twelve years, leaders have been steadfast in their belief of hiring the best people and empowering them by understanding their needs for success.

“When you have servant leadership in a business, it creates an unbreakable team bond where each person is willing to go to battle for the other. It’s each individual, leadership title or not, putting their own desires last and doing whatever it takes to make their team successful first. When an entire organization has a servant leadership mindset, success is inevitable.”

-Julia Jordan, Director of Recruitment

Embodying servant leadership has allowed Goosehead Insurance to evolve and progress. By being immersed in this cultural environment, everyone at Goosehead is able to work towards their personal goals professionally, as well as the long-term vision of being the number one personal lines insurance distributor in the country.

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