An Inward Journey of a Servant Leader

In Leading from Within: Reflection on Spirituality and Leadership, Palmer (2013) discusses leadership training as an inward journey of confronting five types of fear.  Its implications are universal for all of us because overcoming these shadows help us to project light into our relationships.

Insecurity.  We need to examine our fear of insecurity.  When we do not have a clear sense of our identity, we deprive others of their identity.  Our identity does not depend on titles, degrees, and/or possessions. 

Hostility.  We may perceive ourselves on the battlefield with a win-lose mentality, and sadly, this can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Yet, it is not the only way. Instead of hostility, we can seek harmony. We have choices of how we respond to each encounter. 

Loss of Control.  Do you feel responsible for all the decisions, big or small?  This may come from one’s desire to be in control. Instead of coming up with solutions, we can ask guiding questions to assist others in finding their solutions. 

Chaos.  Many people are prone to the fear of chaos.  Understandably, people find comfort in predictable events.  Yet, change is inevitable, and it is a sign of dynamic living. Learning, growth, and improvement in many aspects require one to take risks that may lead to messy consequences.  

Denial of Death.  It is pivotal to review and evaluate the efficacy of what we do regularly.  Holding onto the status quo may blind us from new opportunities. Letting go can make room for further growth.

In conclusion,  an examination of these fears – insecurity, hostility, losing control, chaos, and death – sharpens our awareness and develops our insights. Taking an inward journey helps a servant-leader to be effective in serving and leading others.  An inward journey prepares a servant-leader for an outward journey.    



Palmer, P.J. (2013). Leading from within:  Reflections on spirituality and leadership. Singapore:  The Greenleaf Centre for Servant-Leadership (Asia) Ltd.

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