Servant leadership grows profits - research

A new study found a link between employee-centred managers and better financial performance in a French chain.

by Stephen Jones

The question of who serves whom in an organisation isn’t as straightforward as it sounds.

For proponents of Milton Friedman’s theory of the primacy of shareholder value, the idea that a leader exists for any other reason than to serve the interests of investors is folly. Under this doctrine the company’s employees are there to serve the leader in the accomplishment of their profit-driven mission. 

When Robert Greenleaf first suggested in 1970 a different model - that the leader could exist to serve the 'enhancement' of their employees, a style he termed servant leadership - it was met with scepticism. Focusing time, attention and resources on the betterment of staff, while a nice thing to do, would inevitably be to the detriment of the bottom line. 

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