I agree & I disagree.
I agree to a certain extent, from a personally preferred view, hoping it may one day become a true widely-spread belief that leadership is a position of servitude. This is, regardless of the distinct connotation the middle-age English word “servitude” has, relating to enslavement, slavery or lack of freedom.
If approached philosophically, whether leadership is a position of “servitude” or “service” should not really matter, if the pursuit of such position is driven by genuine passion for driving prosperity, spreading wellness and caring for the followers in all fairness and equality. These are just words. And men, great men and great leaders are judged by their deeds, not by their words no matter eloquent. A true leaders rolls up his sleaves and guides his followers from the front, if not literally then figuratively.
We all know that leaders are not exactly “enslaved” or limited in their powers or freedoms through power possession, as power is not supposed to enslave, or is it? If anything, power, we are told, has the tendency of corrupting its possessor and that absolute power may corrupt absolutely. Could this, too, be a form of enslavement?
One can also argue that it rather should matter whether leadership receives the poetic label of “servitude” or not, using the argument that such an elevating description would do leadership good. After all, people tend respond well to emotionally loaded names & adjectives that have a spirit-uplifting resonance to them, especially when such names take them to a dreamy world of abundant wealth, freedom and equality, away from their daily reality of poverty,oppression and injustice (if applicable).
Many political leaders, including presidents or prime ministers refer to their post as “Public Service”, not being ashamed of attaching “service” to their position, rather proud. CEO’s of super large multinationals, may choose to refer to themselves as such too, when their position indeed influences the lives of hundred-thousands of people. That’s how it works.
Yet, I’m yet to witness a leader who refers to his or her position as one of “servitude” and attach commendable deeds to the noble words. It’s a matter of semantics; the connotation of which cannot be misinterpreted, not by a dumb politician or a socially-handicapped business leader and certainly not by the receiving audience; “the electorate”, whether citizens or customers. (If you think about it, customers do elect their leaders too)
(Let’s don’t dwell too much in a discussion on the power of Public Relations, here)
But I also disagree, because I generally have a distrustful relationship with (paternalistic) “euphemisms”. They sound temptingly nice but may be very deceptive in nature & content. Euphemistic words or descriptions that conceal their right meaning, preying on people’s oblivion of their reality are plenty enough in our world.
To move on from “public service” to “public servitude” through “servant leadership” can be a perfect PR-slogan, symbolizing a much higher commitment to serving others almost closer to being “enslaved by the needs & rights of the public”, whether citizens, employers, employees, customers or any type of stake-holders, who put leaders in such a high or leading positions. But is this really true or enforcible? I don’t think so, as it rarely, if ever, happens on a perceivable scale.
“Servitude” is a personal preference. “Service” is closer to reality & realism.
Let “service” be “service”. It’s good enough!