Leadership Essay Example

Leadership is critical for the optimal functioning of various key operations in varied institutions. It is evident that leaders are the basis within which staff derives motivation and direction in their respective duties. Significantly, a leader’s action should exemplify positive influence through their actions, including facilitating staff’s ability to take decisive actions towards the realization of organizational objectives. This essay will compare and contrast servant and traditional leadership styles, their key values, interactions and attributes, including their identifiable differences and similarities.

There are unique differences in both leadership styles that should be identified. The basis of traditional leadership is that a leader should be the standout and guide their team in the right direction. Traditional views on leadership are that a leader is born with certain qualities. Thus, traditional leadership principles are based on leadership traits, while servant leadership traits are based on the relationship (Schriesheim, 2013).

Servant leadership focuses on the importance of not only leading but also serving their team. Therefore, this leadership style has a caring approach to their team. Servant leaders focus on having a good relationship with their team; hence, they believe that they should show staff members that they are concerned about the well-being of their team (Russell & Stone, 2002). Moreover, servant leaders believe in collaboration with the team in order to accomplish a goal. The concept of a servant leader excludes the level of separation from the leader and the team. Furthermore, a servant leader prioritizes the needs of others, while a traditional leader exerts their efforts aiming to lead others. Thus, servant leadership style adheres to the social change model approach towards leadership (Russell & Stone, 2002).

The social change model focuses on individual, group, and community values. The focus of an individual is on being self-conscious of own beliefs and values that motivate distinct people as leaders. Another individual focus is congruence that is the capacity to function in a way that always represents the core values and convictions (Carter & Greer, 2013). The last individual focus entails commitment, which reveals how much a leader is giving time and passion to their leadership role. The group values of the social change model that reflect the traditional leadership style are collaboration, common purpose and controversy with civility. According to servant leadership, collaboration is solely working together to insure that teams reach their goals (Carter & Greer, 2012).

Traditional leadership clearly identifies the distinction between leaders and their respective staff. A traditional leader is placed on a superior level that should be respected beyond the level of fellow team members (Schriesheim, 2013). Traditional leaders perceive themselves as the bosses, while in fact, they are people who are solely responsible for insuring the goal of the organization is met. Servant leadership is premised on mutual respect, valuing the contribution of all team members and encouraging team members to surpass the existing production capacities (Russell & Stone, 2002).

Servant leaders feel that they can be very successful in inspiring their team to take personal responsibility for their contribution to the success of the team. Consequently, this method has been found to be an effective way to emphasize stewardship of a servant leader. The servant leader is willing to cooperate with their team and set a good example of how they should work towards their goals (Dierendonck, 2011). There are several traditional leader attributes which can comprise honesty, motivation, intelligence, positive disposition, dependability, team building, far-sightedness and the ability to encourage (Schriesheim, 2013). However, these are just some attributes of a leader. The attributes of a servant leader are identified as empowerment and development of their teams. Moreover, servant leaders are not boastful since they express humility in their actions (Russell & Stone, 2002). What is more, they are authentic in their communication with their team. Servant leaders also believe in interpersonal acceptance. Although servant leaders are not considered bosses, they believe in providing their team with clear directions (Carter & Greer, 2013).

The second key to differentiating between old and emerging leadership styles is the philosophies of leadership and how people respond to them. In fact, these different theories or philosophies create a different cadre of leaders. The philosophy of traditional leadership aligns itself with Theory X, which is based upon three different assumptions (Iqbal, Inayat, Ijaz & Zahid, 2012). These assumptions rest on the idea that people crave job security and not responsibility; in addition, people do not even like to work, and, thus, they need to be controlled and given orders (Iqbal et al., 2012). A traditional leader will normally lead their team using an authoritarian style of leadership. Thus, traditional leaders will feel that they are needed to control their team. Consequently, traditional leaders are not team players and do not tend to communicate with the team unless they are giving orders to them.

Traditional leaders can be perceived as negative owing to their lack of true interaction or relationship with their team. However, traditional leadership does not always have a negative connotation. The reason is that when a leader is in an environment that is new for all involved, they need to set goals for their team and give them a structured environment. As a result, this helps people to focus and achieve their goals. Thus, it is possible that if one uses this leadership style in the right context, it can be very effective.

On the other hand, Theory Y correlates with the servant leaders approach. In fact, theory Y is based on three assumptions that people do not mind accepting responsibility, they like to work and are motivated (Iqbal et al., 2012). The theory directly correlates with servant leadership owing to the leadership style of a servant. Therefore, servant leaders are confident in their team’s abilities and work alongside their team to achieve individual and organizational goals (Dierendonck, 2011). They also care about personal goals of their team members and believe in communication with their team. Since servant leaders do not believe in exerting pressure on their teams, their staff seems to respond to them in a positive way. Consequently, servant leaders seem to be happier, work well with others, motivated and team oriented. However, it is not easy to create this style in a working environment, and the employment of other forms of leadership styles such as authoritarianism may get better results from their teams.

There are distinct differences between different philosophies of leadership. However, both ideologies can have their benefits and drawbacks. It is essential to appreciate the ideology of each style and make sure to engage as a leader with respective teams that truly reflects a leadership style (Iqbal et al., 2012). Studies have found that most people do not quit their job because they hate the company; hence, they base their grievances on the reluctance to work with their boss. Moreover, they feel that have no choice because they are dealing with incompetent leaders (Carter & Greer, 2013). Therefore, the relationship that exists between the leader and their team plays a crucial role in the desire of team members to continue working on a certain leader. The philosophy of both styles of leadership has proven to have different responses from people managed by their leaders.

There are upsides and downsides of both styles of leadership. The advantages of a traditional leader will be very clear with their team about expectations and their responsibilities to the team. They are also very self-disciplined and focus on following a set of rules. Traditional leaders appreciate and recognize their team for the work being accomplished. An advantage of this leadership style is the employment of an approach that is identifiable and organized. Moreover, getting results faster and being able to think and plan ahead to avoid problems are upsides of the traditional leadership approach. Furthermore, traditional leaders tend to improve communication with respect to the organizational or project goal that must be attained (Carter & Greer, 2013).

Talking about the drawbacks of traditional leadership style, employees often feel undervalued. Employees feel that the work is the only thing that is important, and they are unhappy in their working environment. Traditional leaders feel that they only have to give orders to their team. Thus, they are never considerate enough to ask one to perform a certain task. Since traditional leaders are so concentrated on deadlines, they only focus on goals and tasks. What is more, the conversation between traditional leaders and staff concerns only facts and figures, excluding the focus on how an employee is completing the task (Carter & Greer, 2013). Talking about servant leadership style, servant leaders generally participate with their team. Communication style of a servant leader is seen to be an upside because they are able to express their care of the team in a personal way. Servant leaders also communicate with the team in a productive way by delegating time and objectives to the team members (Russell & Stone, 2002).

The drawbacks of servant leadership style are that servant leaders can be immensely trusting of their team and do not create barriers. Moreover, these leaders do not tend to micromanage; thus, some deadlines may be missed. Another drawback is that servant leaders may not take total responsibility for their team and their actions. Although servant leaders try to create a relaxing environment, this can backfire since people might not take their work seriously. A good leader would be able to assess their environment to see which style of leadership is appropriate for their team (Iqbal et al., 2012). It is crucial to understand that while leading a group of people, a leader should not be a dictator and give orders since they will not obtain positive results. On the other hand, a leader should avoid the creation of such working environment when people do not care about the accomplishment of their job that will trigger the failure to meet deadlines (Iqbal et al., 2012).

There are distinct differences in both traditional and servant leadership skills. The focus of a traditional leader is solely on the accomplishment of the job. Traditional leadership style views results as the ultimate important thing. On the contrary, a servant leader focuses not solely on caring about the overall job that needs to be completed (Carter & Greer, 2002). Servant leaders put their efforts significantly into caring about the team’s personal needs.

In my pre-graduate clinical placement, I will adopt servant leadership style. The reason is that it develops personal relationships that are critical in effective leadership and realization of goals. Servant leadership will enable me to integrate with people under my command; thus, I will have a direct influence on their work. Furthermore, issues that impact workplace productivity, morale and staff attitude will be identified at an early stage and mitigated accordingly. As a result, this will insure that the quality of care services provided in the clinical placement is exceptional and beneficial to patients.


The adopted leadership style in a nursing environment may influence the extent to which qualitative patient care services are provided. The choice of the appropriate leadership style should be premised on the nursing environment, definite needs, attitudes, values and nature of care provided. Effective leadership is essential in insuring that patients are provided with qualitative care while being confident that employees are adequately motivated to perform their duties to the best of their abilities. In this respect, servant leadership is the optimal choice in a nursing environment since it notes the concerns of both employees and patients.


Carter, S. M., & Greer, C. R. (2013). Strategic leadership values, styles, and organizational performance. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 20(4), 375-393.

Dierendonck, D. (2011). Servant leadership: A review and synthesis. Journal of Management, 37(4), 1228-1261.

Iqbal, J., Inayat, S., Ijaz, M., & Zahid, A. (2012). Leadership styles: Identifying approaches and dimensions of leaders. Interdisciplinary Journal of Contemporary Research in Business, 4(3), 641-659.

Russell, R. F., & Stone, A. G. (2002). A review of servant leadership attributes: Developing a practical model. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 23(3), 145-157.

Schriesheim, C. (2013). Further advances in traditional leadership theory and research. The Leadership Quarterly, 24(6), 797-952.