Making Servant Leadership Work in South Korea

  • Peter Daniel Klein Gyeongnam National University of Science and Technology, Dongjin-ro 33, Jinju-si 52725, South Korea)
Keywords: Cross-cultural leadership applications, Servant Leadership, Servant Leadership in South Korea, Leadership in South Korea


Robert Greenleaf mentioned Asian inspiration in his conception of servant leadership. However, he appears to have developed a model that is best suited for application in the west, since Mittal and Dorfman showed in 2012 that servant leadership might not work well in Asia. Despite the Asian inspiration giving shape to Greenleaf's servant leadership theory, essential eastern elements may have been omitted in the formation of his model, making it less palatable to Asian cultures. This paper hopes to demonstrate that cultural influences on the leadership paradigm in Asia cannot be ignored if servant leadership is to be embraced there.  “Whoever relies on the Tao in governing men doesn’t try to force issues or defeat enemies by force of arms. For every force there is a counterforce. Violence, even well intentioned, always rebounds upon oneself. The Master does his job and then stops. He understands that the universe is forever out of control, and that trying to dominate events goes against the current of the Tao. Because he believes in himself, he doesn’t try to convince others. Because he is content with himself, he doesn’t need others’ approval. Because he accepts himself, the whole world accepts him [1]”


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