“It is a shame that so many leaders spend their time pondering their rights as leaders instead of their awesome responsibilities as leaders.” – James C. Hunter, The Servant
It was the first day back from vacation and I had to leave work early. My wife was down and out having caught some bug on the way home. She was not doing her best and needed me to come home and help take care of our boys.
It has been a few days and she is back to normal and feeling much better. The impressive part was what happened on that day.
By the time I had arrived home, my older son Bryan had already made lunch for his little brother Landon and himself. Both boys were chipping in and helping around the house. They were doing their best to keep things moving and make their mom feel as comfortable as possible. Both boys had stepped into leadership roles and were looking for any opportunities to help.
However, it did not stop when I walked in the door. For the remainder of the evening my oldest son Bryan remained intent on finding ways to serve. He secretly made a cup of tea for his mother and coffee with cream for dad. He added stickies to the cups with thoughts of love for each of us.
What was even more impressive was the look of joy in his eyes. He was finding incredible joy in serving and making those around him feel better. There were no alternative motives and he was looking for nothing in return. It was entirely about the joy of others through serving. You could see the twinkle in his eyes. And it was beautiful to behold.
As leaders we need to keep that focus in front of us at all times. Understanding that serving others is a joy and brings a deep feeling of fulfillment is important to remember. It is not about a hidden agenda or hoping to get something in return. It is about the joy of serving others to improve and grow those around you. That is the satisfaction that comes from servant leadership.
However, never think it is as easy as it sounds. Servant leadership takes work…it requires you to have the right mindset and attitude. Others can see through it when it is not authentic and real. And when there are other agendas involved, you often do your leadership more of disservice than you realize.
I love what Ron Edmondson wrote in a blog about servant leadership I read many months ago and still sticks with me to this day. Since I won’t be able to get the wording exact, I will provide you my own version of his message and hopefully you will get the gist of what he was trying to convey…
…if you really want to determine if the servant leadership is authentic, watch how the leader reacts when treated like one…
How powerful! And how true! When service to others is not authentic you see how attitudes of entitlement and titles are brought to the forefront and thrust into the picture. Peter Lencioni wrote an article about how the most successful organizations were led by those who were willing to do the work without feeling that something was beneath their position. If the floor was dirty, they picked up a broom and dived in. They served others without an attitude of something being beneath them or their title. It was all about serving and growing those they led…it was about being the model.
That is the type of leader that inspires and people want to follow. They build relationships and create trust. They never require anything of others that they are not willing to first do themselves. I appreciate my boys for reminding me of that message.
Service is about raising up others and their is incredible joy and satisfaction in that type of work. Leaders truly have the incredible opportunity to go first and the deep responsibility of thinking of themselves last.
Remember if you want to make an impact on others…choose to serve!