Servant Leadership: Innovative Leader Development in the Online Classroom and Beyond


  • Lora L. Reed
  • Andree Swanson


By virtue of the ways online higher education faculty interface with students in asynchronous learning environments, they are rarely what King (1993) described as sages on the stage. Rather, faculty are facilitators of learning or guides on the side. Indeed, effective online faculty members often teach and otherwise encourage learners who may be isolated and alone at computers. Such learners may be preparing to lead families, communities and organizations in a dynamic global environment. This paper explores whether online faculty fit the servant leader model characterized in Robert Greenleaf’s (1978) vision beyond the Leadership Crisis. And, if they do, are online faculty who model servant leadership in the classroom and other interactions with learners assisting in leader development? Do faculty model the type of leadership that is conducive to innovative organizational cultures? Do they create trust and meaningful relationships that sustain both student and faculty as continuous learners? These research questions are considered in the context of the online classroom.