“Servant-leadership is more than a concept; it is a fact. Any great leader, by which I also mean an ethical leader of any group, will see herself or himself as a servant of that group and will act accordingly.” (M. Scott Peck)
Today, let’s look at the concept of servant leadership. This particular approach to leading people has become popular and valued in recent years. Our discussion will highlight why servant leaders are most effective. In short, a servant leader rules—in the healthiest sense of that verb. There are sound reasons why.
To properly care for those with whom we’ve been entrusted is a sacred responsibility. Lives are either ennobled or disgusted, even scandalized, by the exercise and example of leaders both good and bad.
At the core, a real leader must come to understand this value if he’s to succeed at all: It’s not about you; it’s about them. Former General Electric CEO, Jack Welch–voted Manager of the [20th] Century in 1999 by Fortune–said this:
“The day you become a leader is the day it becomes about them, not you. It is your responsibility to develop your team.”
What are some qualities that set apart the servant leader and make him or her more effective than all others?
- Servant leaders recognize the full dignity of the human person. Those under our leadership are human beings, made in the image of God. They are not chattel, a commodity to serve our self-interest. They have feelings and aspirations. Dreams. They have a story. They are not tin soldiers to be moved by our whims.
- Servant leaders recognize that leadership is first modeled, rather than mandated. We must first exemplify excellence in the way we conduct our lives. There is nothing more contemptible for a soldier than having someone issue directives without climbing into the trenches. Posers are quickly found out.
- Servant leaders, though ultimately responsible to steer the ship, take into account the consequences of their decisions. In the home, a wise husband listens to the input of his wife and his children. And he does so with the kind of humility that is aware that he doesn’t have all knowledge and all perspective. We all have blind spots. Servant leaders understand that and weigh all immediately possible courses. “First do no harm” is the chief maxim for the medical profession. It is the same for servant leaders.
Are you a servant to those for whom you’ve been given responsibility? Can you take steps away from your own ego and insecurity to put their interests ahead of your own?
Go ahead and do it. You’ll be amazed at the results.