Greenleaf’s Best Test®: A Different Kind of Assessment
In 1970 a steady beacon brightened the leadership landscape with the publication of an essay titled The Servant as Leader by Robert K. Greenleaf. In this and subsequent writings, Greenleaf developed the principles of servant leadership, a congruent leadership philosophy based on a simple but profound idea: Leaders whom we trust and want to follow achieve moral authority by being servants to followers and organizations, not by wielding titles or using coercive power. Moreover, entire institutions can act as servants. Every organization has a chart that shows who we are to each other, but servant leadership turns the chart upside down by focusing on how we are for each other.
Servant leadership, however, is not a shallow feel-good philosophy. It calls for radical personal and corporate accountability, deep inner work, and an effort to develop capacities like systems thinking, persuasion, intuition, foresight, and listening with presence.
Some servant leadership-based outcomes—like profits and retention—are not that difficult to measure (incidentally, research shows that both markers are improved in servant-led organizations), but others, like the growth of people and an organization’s impact on a more caring and just society, are more difficult to get a handle on. Luckily, Robert Greenleaf gave us a test for servant-leaders and servant-led organizations. He called it the Best Test:
Greenleaf’s Best Test®
Greenleaf’s Best Test® is a road map of a real inner and outer journey, not a one-time evaluation of knowledge or inventory of future intentions.
The assessment follows Greenleaf’s Best Test® from principle to practice by investigating four categories of inquiry.
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