I concluded my last entry with: ‘Who is the Enemy?’
Greenleaf writes: The real enemy is fuzzy thinking on the part of good, intelligent, vital people, and their failure to lead, and to follow servants as leaders. …There is…too little preparation for and willingness to undertake the hard and high risk tasks of building better institutions in an imperfect world, too little disposition to see ‘the problem’ as residing in here and not out there.
In short, the enemy is strong natural servants who have the potential to lead but do not lead, or who choose to follow a non-servant. [Emphasis is Greenleaf’s]
Fuzzy = blurred, muddleheaded [that is, confused in one’s thinking], and/or incoherent [lacking logical or meaningful connection or lacking unity or harmony]. How many of us would ‘own up to’ being a ‘fuzzy thinker’? What needs are met when one chooses to be a ‘fuzzy thinker’?
How many ‘good, intelligent, vital people’ fail to step up and lead or fail to say ‘yes’ to an invitation to step up and lead? How many folks fail to follow servants as leaders? How often do organizations who espouse Greenleaf’s concepts spend time engaging these questions?
Greenleaf does not let we who espouse to live into and out of his concept to be off the hook – he makes sure the hook is deeply set.
Another way Greenleaf keeps the hook deeply set is by offering us his next statement. ‘There is too little preparation’ and there is ‘too little willingness.’ There are now a number of centers located throughout the world that espouse being ‘Servant-Leadership Centers’ and many of them tell us that they are rooted in Greenleaf’s concept. How many of these Centers intentionally and purpose-fully help prepare servants and servant-leaders for the ‘hard and high risk tasks of building better institutions’? Remember, for Greenleaf a main purpose for an institution is to help co-create a more just and more caring society – talk about ‘high risk’ and ‘hard work.’
How many of us are still disposed to see the problem as residing ‘out there’ rather than ‘in here’ – in the person, in the relationship, in the institution?
Greenleaf then expands his focus: ‘…the enemy is strong natural servants who have the potential to lead but do not lead.’ I have known such strong natural servants who have refused to lead; the risk, it seems, is too high and/or the task, it seems, is too daunting.
How many choose to follow a ‘non-servant’? Perhaps the flip of this is easier to uncover: How many today choose to follow a servant-first leader? How many who espouse Greenleaf’s concept continue to hedge their investment with the words: ‘Oh, it is a nice romantic theory but it won’t work in the real world!’