Sub Thoughts: On Servant Leadership



Most people don’t know much about my daily life – I think I have two friends on Tumblr who are friends IRL, and the rest just know me as this woman who writes stuff sometimes. 

In my waking life, I work at a school that has character-building as one of its primary mission goals. As such, we spend a lot of time developing our leadership and ethics program, exploring what “leadership” and “ethics” can look like, and the many ways one can practice leadership.

It might come as no surprise that I find myself fitting comfortably into the concept of “servant leadership,” so I thought a quick look at this concept might be useful for other subs (and probably for some Doms as well).

The phrase “servant leadership” was coined by Robert E. Greenleaf in the 1970s, but I’d argue that the concept has been around for centuries. You can see the ideals in writings about, for example, Jesus and the Buddha, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr, etc. As it’s described on the Greenleaf Foundation website:

A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid,” servant leadership is different. The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.

In other words, the servant leader’s highest goal is to lift up those around them through service and enabling them to become a better version of themselves.

If you’re thinking this sounds a lot like what @instructor144 always says the primary purpose of a Dom is, well, you’re not wrong. Dominance and submission can been seen as two sides of the same service coin, although I’d posit that Doms in general lean quite a bit more to the traditional leadership-from-above roles as well as servant leadership, while Subs tend to lean further into leadership-from-below/within roles – within their life as a Sub, anyway. I also think it’s no accident that a seemingly large proportion of Subs, myself included, are in some sort of service or caretaking career in their everyday life, or that they seem to generally excel at those careers and become leaders within them.

To be clear, there’s nothing “weak” or “powerless” about servant leadership. Anyone who is a caretaker for another person understands that it requires a certain toughness of mind and steel of spirit that doesn’t necessarily manifest itself as a hardened exterior. It’s the idea of softness of heart combined with determination and a guiding hand that characterizes this leadership style.

Anyway, I’ve linked a couple of resources below the bar if you’d like to explore more. I spend a lot of time at work analyzing leadership styles, personality assessments, and learning functions, so if you ever want to chat about, say, the MBTI, hit me up :)

Robert E. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership. 

Servant Leadership: A Journey Into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness by Robert E. Greenleaf is available on Amazon

I love the concept of “servant leadership.” It really resonates with so much of what being a responsible Dominant is all about.

This! There’s a big difference between leadership for its own sake and leadership for something. Or someone.

I’m a Daddy, not a Dom, and this is just such a natural distinction. A Daddy wants to raise someone up. To guide them not for his sake but for theirs. Not to turn them into what he wants them to help them grow into their own potential.

I’m not psyched by the term “servant leadership.” It’s not bad but it doesn’t resonate. Daddy works perfectly for me, of course, but Not everyone’s a Daddy.

Responsibility kink, maybe?

Though I imagine there are responsibility bottoms as well as responsibility tops.

Hmmm. Food for thought.