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Leaders Serve

Have you heard this statement? “Your rewards in life will always be equal to the value of your service to others.” No matter who you are or where you are, that ultimately proves to be true.The idea of servant leadership was first modeled and taught by Jesus Christ, modern servant leadership was launched by Robert K. Greenleaf in 1970. Greenleaf defined the servant-leader as follows:"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.”Greenleaf said that "the servant-leader is servant first." By that he meant that that the desire to serve, the "servant's heart," is a fundamental characteristic of a servant-leader. That simple fact is the key to his greatness. His essay, The Servant as Leader, provides a fairly long list of additional characteristics that Greenleaf considered important. They include listening and understanding; acceptance and empathy; foresight; awareness and perception; persuasion; conceptualization; self-healing; and rebuilding community. Greenleaf describes servant-leaders as people who initiate action, are goal-oriented, are dreamers of great dreams, are good communicators, are able to withdraw and re-orient themselves, and are dependable, trusted, creative, intuitive, and situational.Does this mean a servant leader literally takes on the role of a servant? No, Jesus Christ, the original servant leader, was a balance between servant and leader. He didn’t lose any of his leadership qualities through his service. Neither do servant leaders today. Servant leadership is a blend and balance between leader and servant.You can be a servant leader. You NEED to be a servant leader. As Albert Schweitzer said, “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”Develop these skills, and you will be well on your way:

  • Develop respect and value for diverse opinions. Servant leaders not only value differing opinions, they seek them out.

  • Determinedly build a culture of trust. Refuse behind the scenes gossip and deals.

  • Prioritize leadership development. Teach others to lead, provide opportunities for growth, and lead by example. The servant leaders give away power and empowers others to lead.

  • Invest in others’ life issues. Servant leaders know that a person’s life extends beyond work and impacts life. Stronger, better, more satisfied people make better workers, so these leaders provide those opportunities.

  • Develop encouragement to an art form. A servant leader loves the pronouns “we” and “us.” He always fosters the “can-do”, “we believe in you” spirit.

  • Prioritize persuasion. Servant leaders do not dictate. They persuade and influence, not command. It’s about cooperation, not control.

  • Develop a low I Q… as in lower the emphasis on “I” There’s a selfless quality about a servant leader. Someone who is thinking only, “How does this benefit me?” is disqualified. There are many fewer “I’s” and “ME’s” from a servant leader. It’s about YOU.

  • Take the long look. A servant leader is thinking about the next generation, the next leader, the next opportunity. That means everything is not about a quick hit or instant growth. It’s about sustainability. It’s saving some seed corn. “Servant leaders sacrifice some today to develop more for tomorrow.” -Skip Prichard

  • Grow in humility. The servant leader doesn’t wear a title or flaunt a position as a way to show who’s in charge. A servant leader doesn’t think he’s better than everyone else, and sees no job as beneath him. A servant leader acts in a way to care for others. She sets an example of service, and understands that it is not about the leader, but about others.

The servant leadership model is the way to true greatness as a leader and a person. As Martin Luther King Junior witnessed, “Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve…. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.”What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world, is and remains immortal. —Albert Pine

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