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Servant First! [Paperback]

By John J. Sullivan (Other)
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Item description for Servant First! by John J. Sullivan...

Entering the new millennium, men and women across the globe are crying out for a new type of leadership. The old command and control model is dead, and the search for a new approach has begun. In Servant First! Leadership for the New Millennium, John Sullivan develops a practical leadership model based on a careful study of the teaching and practice of Jesus of Nazareth. This upside-down leadership style puts the needs of followers above those of the leader; promotes teamwork, individual dignity, and worth; and results in a synergy of purpose unachievable with the old leadership models. Its application in today's organizations creates an environment in which people freely choose to create, innovate, and strive for excellence. The book begins with a review of traditional leadership theories and contrasts them with servant leadership. Sullivan shows how modern leadership approaches are molded by the servant-first style of Jesus. The reader is left with a model for leading 21st-century organizations that will unleash the creativity of people working together to achieve common objectives.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Xulon Press
Pages   260
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.5" Width: 5.5" Height: 0.59"
Weight:   0.73 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 20, 2003
Publisher   Xulon Press
ISBN  159467227X  
ISBN13  9781594672279  

Availability  85 units.
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More About John J. Sullivan

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Dr John Sullivan has been a professor of management for over 26 years at San Francisco State University. His specialty is HR strategy and designing world class HR systems and tools for Fortune 200 firms. He has worked with over 200 different businesses and organizations in more than 30 countries around the world as a speaker or advisor. He has written a weekly column for ERE for over eleven years. Overall, he has written ten books, dozens of white papers and over 700 articles. He was the chief talent officer for Agilent (the 40,000+ employee HP spin off). He has appeared on the CBS and ABC national nightly news, CNN and in various publications including Fortune, the Economist, CIO, BusinessWeek, the WSJ, the Washington Post, Money, Time and every major HR magazine. Fast company called him the Michael Jordan of hiring. He was listed among the 40 most influential people in HR. Tom Peters cites and utilizes his work in his latest book Re-Imagine.

John J. Sullivan currently resides in Sarasota, in the state of Florida.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Business & Investing > General
2Books > Subjects > Business & Investing > Management & Leadership > Leadership
3Books > Subjects > Business & Investing > Management & Leadership > Management
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > Leadership

Christian Product Categories
Books > Christian Living > Spiritual Growth > Discipleship & New Believer

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Reviews - What do customers think about Servant First!?

Managers Who Serve  Apr 14, 2004
Early this morning in the locker room of my local YMCA, I had a recurring discussion with a friend and senior executive from an internationally recognized American bank. We discussed a subject of mutual interest to both of us--the need in our society to develop effective managers. In our opinion leaders may be born (to a degree) but managers are made (or more precisely, developed) over time. It takes great focus, patience, and courage to become an effective manager. John Sullivan's book give great insight into the secret of what it takes to become particular type of manager--one who can capably serve society through responsibly using the leadership qualities they possess.

I have been a manager for a large corporation, taught undergraduate and graduate management courses, and been assigned responsibility for developing managers at a large federal agency. As a result of my interest in the subject I have read a number of books on the subject of servanthood, or stewardship, and--in my opinion--John Sullivan's book is the best. Why do I believe "Servant First" is a book that deserves to be read?

In the first half of his book, John builds a sound foundation by addressing the best of existing management theory. I have known John Sullivan for several years and he is in his element here. John has also been a manager and he has has also taught management for years. He knows the breadth, depth, and current state of management study--with at times its shortcomings and shallowness--and he is an excellent communicator. His balanced treatment of this initial section can probably only be truly measured for its scholarship by someone who has read widely in the field, but it does not take a scholar to understand and appreciate what John is writing about. He is clear, practical, and to the point.

Then, in the second half of the book, John turns with great insight and enthusiasm to directly address his thesis. "One needs to start with the attitude of a servant if one is to successfully serve others, and the teachings of Jesus Christ provide some great insight into this task that should be understood--not ignored or disregarded." John is as capable in his Biblical scholarship as he is in the field of management study. This is no simplistic cookbook written for the amateur. In this short book, John has provided his reader with a very lucid, succinct summary of management thought taken from a distinctly Christian perspective.

John is consistently logical, and his book has an organization that neither presumes too much, nor bores the reader. By the time one finishes "Servant First," one has a good picture of both the challenges and contributions of a servant ethic that attempts to emulate the teachings of Jesus Christ. One doesn't have to be a Christian to learn important principles from this book, but if one is a Christian there is a special insight into this process of developing one's servanthood that can be gained because of one's experiences and difficulties in attempting to serve--with competence.

I recommend it without reservation for the practitioner, the scholar, or the beginning student. I also recognize that it may have value for those working within churches. The experienced manager will fine that there is contained in this book a timeless, classical wisdom written with an understanding of the modern world of the twenty-first century. It is a passionate message that one can only hope will find root in contemporary soil.

A Review of John J. Sullivan's Servant First!  Jan 16, 2004
A Review of John J. Sullivan's
Servant First! Leadership for the New Millennium

By J. Thomas Whetstone, D.Phil.

Pessimism is the prevailing mindset at the beginning of the new millennium among discontented intellectuals, the media, and those who seek a utopia on earth (Johnson, 2003). We can do nothing in the face of economic stagnation, business corruption, global warming, and international terrorism, according to pessimists. But there is a viable alternative: the optimism of those who can adopt the leadership example set by Jesus Christ to serve others.

John Sullivan's book, Servant First! Leadership for the New Millennium, sets forth this optimistic alternative in a lucid and practical manner. Drawing from scholarship on management and leadership, especially Deming's (1982) total quality management and Greenleaf's (1991) servant leadership, his own diverse experience, and biblical examples, Sullivan develops a practical model for Christian leadership.

Servant leadership differs from trait, behavioral, situational, and contingency leadership approaches by to its focus on human persons and relationships. This normative paradigm involves recognition of the leader and the followers as spiritual as well as material creatures, ones worthy of dignity and respect unconditionally, not merely for their instrumental contributions. As Robert K. Greenleaf and his followers (e.g., Spears, 1995) note, a genuine servant leader puts the needs and desires of her followers before her own needs. Her preferred methods are use of persuasion and example rather than command and control or manipulation. She measures success by manifest growth in the people served and the positive effects on overall society.

Critics, such as Craig Johnson (2001), argue that servant leaders can be unrealistically naïve, too passive and too tolerant of followers, pursue the wrong ends, and ineffective in some situational contexts, such as prison administration. Even admitted advantages of servant leadership, including its altruism, simplicity, and self-awareness, can be viewed as weakened through naivety. According to Norman Bowie (2000), a servant leader can be too subject to manipulation by followers.

John Sullivan, while not directly refuting such criticism, presents a strong positive case for servant leadership, describing and explaining how the biblical Christ led and mentored his disciples. Sullivan's book indeed demonstrates that proper servant leadership need not be limited by the above objections. Moreover, Sullivan argues that the leadership model exemplified by Christ is not beyond ordinary human capability, but it may be studied and applied effectively within a variety of contemporary organizations.

Sullivan identifies character traits, competencies, and leadership types exemplified by Christ as leader. He describes how Christ built a values-driven organization based on principles honoring the dignity and worth of each imperfect individual. Drawing on his military experience and management education, Sullivan offers a five-phased strategy for preparing, deploying, and growing an organization. Especially helpful are the suggested questions that the contemporary leader can address at each phase. Examples, often blending the methods of Deming with biblical accounts, explain specific tactics that have been used successfully to implement the strategy in military, educational, and business situations. The concluding example, that of Chris Heuertz, Executive Director of Word Made Flesh, shows how servant leadership has been used in organizing and implementing a program for serving the poor in many of the most underdeveloped regions of the world.

Sullivan does not argue ideologically, but seeks to persuade the reader by using numerous examples that a person who adopts the nature of a servant leader, applying the principles and behaviors exemplified by Christ, can lead well. His book thus presents a positive alternative for anyone interested in moving away from the naysayers toward a culture of personal, corporate, and societal optimism. Sullivan explains how it has worked well and can continue to do so. His book is recommended reading for anyone searching for an optimistic and practical stimulus for more effective leadership.


Bowie, Norman: 2000. "Business Ethics, Philosophy, and the Next 25 Years". Business Ethics Quarterly. 10(1), 7-20.

Deming, W. Edwards: 1982. Out of Crisis. Cambridge, MA: Center for Advanced Engineering Study, M.I.T.

Greenleaf, Robert K.: 1991. Servant Leadership. NY: Paulist.

Johnson, Craig E.: 2001. Meeting the Ethical Challenges of Leadership. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Johnson, Paul: 2003. "An `Ism' for All Seasons". National Review (October 13), 17-18.

Spears, Larry (Ed.): 1995. Reflections on Leadership: How Robert K. Greenleaf's Theory of Servant-leadershipInfluenced Today's Top Management. NY: John Wiley & Sons.


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