Whats your definition of servant leadership?
During a management presentation for CIO‘s, I offered this up as a definition of servant leadership.
“The only effective way to achieve this is to become selfless, placing more value on others than yourself. An interesting dynamic occurs when you discover, believe, and live this style of leadership: it will create a team that will walk through fire with you. You become a builder of relationships. There are two quotations central to this way of leading. First, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit; but with humility of mind, let each of you regard one another as more important than himself. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Second, “the beginning of leadership is a battle for the hearts and minds of others.” The end product of this attitude is trustworthiness and credibility.” – Tim Young
(Excerpt from: The Role of a CTO/CIO: Leading Technology Executives on Setting Goals, Building a Strong Team, and Adding Value to a Company (Inside the Minds), Aspatore Publishing)
This was my quote and the rub is…there are many days where I fall short!
We were knee deep in the midst of a tough situation at work where there was clearly no good outcome. In an effort to save face, my self-preservation kicked in and I convinced myself that the best way to solve the problem was to pull rank. It would have been so easy to let the team run the next play by themselves and watch the carnage from the sideline. Every fiber in me wanted to pull rank! The tug-of-war in my head continued, my frustration grew and I decided it was time to pause and take a break.
With the door closed, I retreated to the sanctuary of my office and began praying to get some guidance and to re-center myself. After some time in prayer, I opened my eyes and happened to glance at a picture of George Washington I had hanging on my wall. The picture was always there, but today I saw it with a fresh new perspective. Staring at the picture for a bit a thought popped into my head. A thought that reminded me of a snippet I recently read about…
A rider on horseback, many years ago, came upon a squad of soldiers who were trying to move a heavy piece of timber. A corporal stood by, giving lordly orders to “heave.” But the piece of timber was a trifle too heavy for the squad.
“Why don’t you help them?” asked the quiet man on the horse, addressing the important corporal.
“Me? Why, I’m a corporal sir!” Dismounting, the stranger carefully took his place with the soldiers.
“Now, all together boys – heave!” he said. And the big piece of timber slid into place. The stranger mounted his horse and addressed the corporal.
“The next time you have a piece of timber for your men to handle, corporal, send for the commander-in-chief.”
The horseman was George Washington, the first American president.
Enough said, I had my resolve! No matter the outcome, I would find the courage and lead my team through the tough situation in full accountability!
Are you in a position of influence or “power” in your organization?
When the going gets tough, do you lead or retreat?
Is is about you or is it about others?
I ask God daily for the courage and strength to get past myself and be a servant leader to others. May God make you a great humble servant leader of others!
If you’re looking for a good read regarding George Washington, I recommend ’1776′ by David McCullough.
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