Servant Leadership: A Path to High Performance

  • Some executives play their cards close to the vest, hiding uncertainties and strategic plans from the individuals that support them. But great leaders recognize that modern employees have their pick of career paths and provide personal incentives for emotional engagement across their organization. Embody your values in your behavior, choose empathy over fear and witness how servant leadership secures the long-term health of your organization. 

  • At a Glance

    Supercharge the success of your business by prioritizing people first. In Servant Leadership: A Path to High Performance, you'll learn how becoming accountable to those who typically account to you can deepen working relationships, strengthen employee and customer satisfaction, and re-engage the emotional drivers of success across your sphere of influence.

    The Program

    You'll look behind the scenes at some of the world's most successful businesses, including Best Buy, UPS, Whole Foods, Room & Board, Carlson Travel and Grameen Bank, to study their "secrets": people-centric leaders. You'll identify the habits and personal beliefs that power their daily and long-term choices. Using these principles as your guide, you'll participate in workshops to audit your organization and your own behavior during typical business situations. Speakers will share intimate stories of their servant leadership experiences, and each day you'll apply these insights to a personalized plan for improving your effectiveness as a leader. You'll also refine your natural management inclinations with individual coaching from Darden leadership, service and ethics professors, and ultimately discover how the values you demonstrate allow ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

    Where You'll Excel

    • Learn why the servant leadership model is one of the fastest-growing forms of professional development among top-performing managers and executives.
    • Examine your unchallenged assumptions about direct report management. 
    • Discover the difference between obedience and engagement and ingrain new habits that encourage others to achieve the highest good.
    • Develop your best ideas with collaborative input and without undue attachment to their execution.
    • Move beyond compensatory standards of risk and reward by cultivating an atmosphere of support and respect.
    • Lead your team through stressful projects while remaining thoughtful, empathetic and inclusive. 


    Schedule & Topics

    • The Nine "Secrets" of High-Performance Organizations
    • Good Intentions Are Not Enough: Leadership Is Behavior
    • Engagement for Success
    • Good People, Bad Outcomes
    • High-Performance Harmony
    • Business Purpose and Executive Purpose
    • Obedience and Authority
    • Change? How?


    You'll walk away from Servant Leadership with:

    • An action plan of goals to remind you of when and how to serve others
    • An awareness of how others perceive your servant leadership skills and methods to improve the habits you already possess
    • Easy ways to welcome high-level conversations with direct reports, customers and suppliers
    • Triggers to help you relax the tension of self-preservation in favor of thoughtfulness, empathy and willingness to listen
    • The ability to let go and allow others to do their jobs more effectively and happily
    • A list of personal performance goals to consistently improve your servant leadership practice


    This course is designed for leaders and practicing senior managers who translate corporate strategy into operational performance among private and public companies, not-for-profits, NGOs, and educational and health systems. It's best for those who want to embrace introspection as well as delegation, create a working atmosphere of harmony and contentment, or ensure the long-term success of their organization. 




    Edward D. Hess

    Professor of Business Administration and Batten Executive-in-Residence
    During his nearly 40 years in the business world, Hess has studied numerous high-performance organizations (and their leaders), including UPS, Starbucks, Ritz-Carlton, Whole Foods, Home Depot, Best Buy and the United States Marine Corps, to name a few. An award-winning author of 10 books, he is frequently cited and consulted for his expertise in business growth and strategy.



    Alexander B. Horniman

    Killgallon Ohio Art Professor of Business Administration and Senior Fellow at the Olsson Center for Applied Ethics
    Horniman has been training ethical, mindful leaders for more than 45 years. He has inspired thousands to think differently about how they lead and influence others. A behavioral psychology and leadership specialist, he is the founding director of Darden's Olsson Center for Applied Ethics and has prior experience in the military and aviation industry.



    S. Venkataraman

    MasterCard Professor of Business Administration and Senior Associate Dean for Faculty and Research
    An internationally renowned scholar and educator in the field of entrepreneurship, "Venkat" also teaches ethics and strategy. He consults with Fortune 500 firms and advises companies, universities and governments on strategy. The faculty director of The Executive Program, Darden's flagship advanced management course, he began his career as co-founder of a successful Indian technology spinoff.



    Andrew C. Wicks

    Ruffin Professor of Business Administration; Director, Darden Olsson Center for Applied Ethics; Director, Darden Doctoral Program
    Co-author of three books and dozens of cases and journal articles, Wicks is an expert in corporate social responsibility and ethics. His research focuses on stakeholder responsibility, total quality management, trust, and ethics and entrepreneurship. An academic adviser for the Business Roundtable Institute for Corporate Ethics, Wicks also serves as an adjunct professor at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at UVA.

    Location & Accommodations

    Darden School of Business
    Charlottesville, Virginia

    As a participant, you'll stay in a private room at the  Inn at Darden, our highly rated hotel adjacent to the classroom buildings and dining center. Accommodations are included in your tuition.

    Tuition & Certificates

    $8,900 covers materials, meals and accommodations at the  Inn at Darden.

    By taking this course, you will earn one week of credit toward a  Certificate of Specialization.