Servant leadership in the knowledge era

We have been trained to respect and follow those who are knowledgeable. At work, there was a time when many shrewd men mustered power through their knowledge, earned over years of learning and practice. Several folks became leaders through the knowledge they used, to serve others. The first generation of communication networks ensured the fall of the barrier to information access. The second generation of networks over internet enabled free access to information. Digital tools of today make learning, building and applying knowledge on any subject, very seamless. In this context, how valuable is Knowledge and those knowledgeable?

Traditional “top-of-the-pyramid” leadership that generally involves the accumulation and exercise of the power is becoming irrelevant with the abundance of knowledge and knowledge-workforce. This, in turn, is pushing – sharing of power, putting the needs of others first and adoption of inclusive business models. Servant leadership is taking center-stage without any fanfare.

Any business or project you are part of today will have a significant part of knowledge-based work. All stakeholders and customers are also equally knowledgeable or have access to relevant knowledge. Note the frustration of doctors working with patients who meet them with own knowledge acquired through online research and public opinion about their possible disease, conditions, and course of action. To be on the top-of-your-practice, you have to quickly assess how much of knowledge the person already possesses and build/ correct the same to help them with the problem they are facing. Practice servant leadership more actively to be effective in this free-knowledge-era.

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