I’m excited to share some thoughts regarding leadership. Recently, I googled the word “leadership” and it reavealed 141 million hits! Wow! Now I understand why many are confused when it comes to defining leadership. Since this is our first session, I’d like to begin by sharing the “best kept” leadership secret – BE A SERVANT.
The phrase “Servant Leadership” was coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in The Servant as Leader, an essay that he first published in 1970. In that essay, he said:
The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.
The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived? (Source: Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership)
Being a servant is often frowned upon. Instead life is all about being successful and that doesn’t quite equate to being a servant. The world tells you to have ambition and drive so you can one day lead as CEO. But self promotion seldom results in effective leadership. If you are only focused on what you want, if you rise up through manipulation and power play, only you benefit. As a result, that leadership is seldom influential. A truly effective leader is defined by a different heart attitude. It reflects in the success of the people that they work with and manage. It is evidenced in the organizations they lead, and it impacts dramatically on a business’ bottom line. Their secret is simply that they lead people by being a servant to them.
Something to think about…
How would you define leadership ‘before’ reading today’s post?
How would you define leadership ‘after’ reading today’s post?
How can a Leader be a Servant at the Same Time?