Oct 8, 2005
In Herman Hesse's Journey to the East, a band of men are on a mythical journey. Leo, the central figure of the story, accompanies the party as a servant who does menial chores and also sustains them with his spirit and song.
Inspired by Hesse's writing, Robert Greenleaf wrote an essay in 1969 titled 'Servant Leadership' which later turned into a non-fiction best-seller.
In Journey to the East, Herman Hesse writes:
I perceived that my image was in the process of adding to and flowing into Leo's, nourishing and strengthening it. It seemed that, in time ... only one would remain: Leo. He must grow, I must disappear.
As I stood there and looked and tried to understand what I saw, I recalled a short conversation that I had once had with Leo during the festive days of Bremgarten. We had talked about the creations of poetry being more vivid and real than the poets themselves.
When the work becomes more important than the worker, the leader naturally turns into a servant.