“Rugged individualism, a cherished value in American society, can cloud our vision, causing us to forget that leaders ultimately serve others.”
~Delorese Ambrose (italics added).
We too easily forget when climbing our towers, achieving our own version of “greatness,” of the people beneath us and how we depend on them. Truth be told, they too rely on us, but how often does the modern leader truly cherish his or her own subordinates? This, however, is the challenge of true leadership.
This is a biblical model of leadership; indeed, it is the very basis of the only working model that sustains itself.
For the processes they’re charged with to grow, the leader must recognise and effect personal decrease, and promote worker increase. It opens the leader to true delegation of power and freedom of reign—joined with a faith that their unique contribution as ‘leader’ is enough, and that their ‘star’ worker might outshine them and that would be great. It is true altruism.
How many of us yearn to be led like this. For the boss to say, “C’mon, show me what you can do.” It’s a risk to truly let people go and in the same breath say, “Is there anything I can do to support you... I want you to succeed.”
What do people see in true servant leaders? A whole heap of virtues that are rarely seen in this day, or any day for that matter. It’s the honesty, humility, integrity, faith, resilience and courage, and ‘self-effacingness’ that intuits admiration from the onlooker and follower. It communicates respect and a love for the other person that is so much more powerful than all the flattery in the history of time. Everyone wants a leader who will give of themselves as impetus for a personal lift to another person.
Servant leadership promotes collaboration, trust, empathy, and the ethical use of power. It is recognising the good and getting fully behind it, encouraging, coaxing, and cheerleading. It is broader picture stuff—much broader than most people’s vision. Servant leadership is saying, “I’m here, I believe in what we’re doing, and I’m going to be right behind this venture/person/group until the job’s finished.” And this person deflects the kudos, but not in a false way; they simply see the role of the one/group that actually did the work as primary. They’re inspired to deflect that kudos out of love.
Servant leaders are many things, not the least of which organisers, catalysts, and stewards. They produce results by funnelling resources responsibly; efficiently. They recognise areas of potential for growth due to their vision; they act. They communicate effectively, and always seem to have their emotions in check because it’s not their personal pride on the line—it’s the team’s.
Servant leaders are first and foremost, trustworthy. You’d mortgage the house, going surety on them. Again, what we’d do for more of them?
© 2008, 2010 S. J. Wickham.