THE ART OF SERVICE LEADERSHIP

“But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant”

¬Matthew 23:11.

The layman would ask, how can the leader be the servant? Is a leader not the one everybody looks up to? Does he not occupy the most significant position? Is he not the most regarded and a role model to many?

Well, he may be right with these follow-up questions upon contact with this topic as he looks through the lenses of rationality, thus society’s description but can we rather look at things from the greatest legend of leadership’s viewpoint? Yes, I’m talking about our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. The greatest servant leader that ever lived on this earth and serves as the best epitome and a standard from the time of old for many till date.

From our opening verse, Jesus makes us understand that to be a leader, you must first of all, be a servant. Let’s take it from a practical point. Did you know that the lower you go down the higher you can jump up? Try that! Yes, it really works! Exactly! That is the principle of leadership. You need to go as low as you can for you to soar higher. How humble you are shows how far you would go in life.

What then is leadership? Leadership in my opinion is serving others with the ultimate goal in mind; unconsciously being served. It is ultimately about service; not titles with empty words demanding respect and praises. A leader is an outline of his /her followers. The cover of an entity or a body. Mostly, we get it wrong thinking it is normal for a leader to have his way “lording over his subordinates.” Lest we forget, “a leader is an ordinary person with followers”. Thus, he/she is, because, a group of people have placed some level of confidence in him to guide them into achieving a specific goal.

Servant on the other hand, I would say is a person who lives at the edge of instructions and for someone else regarded as a superior. In simple terms, a servant has his/her freedom curtailed and serves his/her master. We can also say a devoted and helpful follower or supporter.

What word comes to mind when you hear servant? Serve, Yes! That is exactly what they do. They serve others irrespective of their level or status. They see to it that; others have the best and are comfortable contrary to their state of being then. Whether or not it goes against their will and wishes and out of their comfort zones, they have to make things happen out of nothing most often. The end result must be of good news and best interest of their followers. Can we identify the qualities of a good leader in there?

Martin Luther King Jnr, the American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement in 1955 once said, “Everybody can be great because everybody can serve. You don’t need to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve… You only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.”

Another great words from Sheri L. Dew… “True leaders understand that leadership is not about them, but about those they serve. It is not about exalting themselves, but about lifting others up”.

Yet some people can never forgo their fruitless pride and put on the garment and the heart of a servant, just for once. Even when it threatens their life…Wow! They rather appreciate being served always. That is selfish pride. There are five pertinent questions I want to bring to your attention in relation to servant leadership;

What kind of leader am I following?

We have the choice to select who to follow, in our choices, let us critically examine the personality in question. Key factors we can look for in a leader is his/her value on Integrity, Sense of Responsibility, Commitment, Persistency, Time Management Dedication, the desire to raise greater leaders from within. Let us not forget that your leader can make or unmake you. So, choose rightly.

How can I Best Serve? 

It starts with having the right mindset. One doesn’t envision to succeed when the mindset is that of a failure. No! In the same vein, have in mind that you will give off your best, notwithstanding the circumstances. Never compromising the approved standards and your virtues, be selfless, serve without expectancy of an equal measure reciprocated. Serve out of love.

Am I Making My Unique Contribution?

There is the need for an introspection, we cannot move any further in life if we do not know and haven’t conquered our self. You have to know yourself to be able to give off your best in the field of your strength. Do a self-appraisal once a while.

Am I Leading, Developing and Growing Other Leaders?

As you climb the leadership ladder, it is important you take others along. You cannot develop yourself entirely without thinking of others, when you know you are all working as a team. When you develop others, they become better, they do the job better and everybody wins. As a leader, you need to share the same expertise with other people, just as you received from others.

In the workplace, you ought to devote some time off your busy schedule to look out for the interest of your workers. You need to understand where they are coming from, their flaws and shortcomings and devise how best you can help them deal with the problems. Remember the test of your leadership is when all works well in your absence…It means others can get the work done well because you have developed and empowered them.

What Am I Learning?

A good teacher is like a candle that burns itself for others to have the light. Thus, gives off knowledge through teaching others and that is the best way to learn. You never heard this secret? Well, you have. In teaching others, you identify new methods, and better ways to go about things.

A good servant is selfless, sacrificial, hardworking, visionary, and loves her work. That is to say, gives off herself for others to benefit. A good servant lays down his/her precious quality time, strength, knowledge, skill, everything in fact, just to see success crowned and the master honored. He/she puts in so much efforts and tackles difficult tasks, thinks ahead of her leader and does the expected of the leader and finally enjoys what he/she does. That is the exact point being established here. Those are the qualities that need to be seen in a you as a servant leader.

Robert Greenleaf, founder of the Modern Servant Leadership Movement and the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership said, “The servant-leader is servant first”, that is very true. You cannot give what you do not possess. An apple tree just cannot bear mango fruits or a palm tree bringing forth bananas, either. You have to be a natural servant as a leader to be able to serve, and that brings so much joy and fulfilment.

Avail yourself to be a blessing to others and change someone’s story for the better. Service to man is service to God. I agree with Tom Peters, an American writer on business management practices, best known for in search of excellence, as he says, “Organizations exist to serve. Period. Leaders live to serve”.

In a nut shell, Leadership is serving selflessly and wholeheartedly in love. Do ponder on the very inspiring words of Renowned Theologian, Philosopher and Physician, Albert Schweitzer, “I do not know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know is that the only ones among you who will really be happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”

“You will find yourself by losing yourself in service to your fellow man, your country, your God.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

Written By: Genevieve Pearl Duncan