True Leadership is Servanthood. Leadership and servanthood seem like direct opposites. Leadership paints a picture of one who leads the team and calls the shots, while the servant is there to execute whatever the leader wants done. Surprisingly true leadership is servanthood, because only a person who has an attitude of a servant has the ability to attract followers.
“You can make more followers in one week by taking an interest in other people than you will make in one year trying to make people interested in you.”
I am not intending to write a book on leadership right here, rather just an article, so I will keep it simple and to the point. The question to ask yourself as a leader is “Am I a leader to serve or to be served, to fulfill my own ambition or to help others maximize their potential?” The irony is; by not giving attention to yourself, you get it anyway. Being self-centred sadly awards you a very small following, if you are lucky to get any.
The True Measure of Leadership is Influence.
The true measure of leadership is influence. A leader who does not have followers is essentially just whiling up time because every true leader has followers. A leader should influence people to follow him/her and also follow his/her vision. This statement would imply at least three things;
1. A leader should have a vision and a clear direction of where the team is going otherwise it is unfair and an insult to ask people to follow you to nowhere. Leroy Eims expressed it this way “A leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than others see and who sees before others do.”
2. The vision should be strong enough for other people to be willing to follow it by choice not by force.
3. Not only should followers buy into the vision, but they should also buy into the visionary in order to follow him/her. People may love the vision but it does not necessarily follow that they will love the visionary or vice versa. Having people to love the vision is usually the easier part, loving the visionary can be a challenge. The fact that you now possess a good vision does not mean that people have no choice but to follow you. People buy into and consume the leader first before the vision. Therefore, this means that the leader has to possess certain qualities and characteristics that draw people to him/her.
What characteristics should a leader possess? The two main categories that these characteristics would fall into are;
1. Strategy /actions/ skills and competencies etc
2. Character/ who you are/ your Being.
Both categories are important but if you have to lack one, may your character be stronger. People have to believe in you, trust you and know that you are a person of integrity to allow you to use your skills to chant the course of their destiny. A servanthood character which is normally kind, gentle, humble and caring is likely to attract and draw people to the leader while that of being aggressive, inconsiderate, self centred is likely to repel people. The irony is that everyone wants to draw people who have positive attributes rather than negative attributes even though they themselves have negative attributes.
Biblical Examples of Leadership Through Servanthood
True leaders are servants of the people they lead. A servant ministers to the needs and interests of others. Paul writing to the Philippians in Philippians 2 v 3-5 says “do nothing out of rivalry or conceit but in humility count others more significant than yourself. Let not each man look only to his own interests but also to the interests of others. Let this mind be in you also which was in Christ Jesus”. As Jesus spoke to his disciples, he said in Matthew 20v27 “And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant”. Jesus also led by example when he washed his disciples’ feet and served them bread and wine (John 13v5-27).
It takes a great deal of humility for a leader to come down to the level of the follower and pick the follower up to the leader’s level. True leaders are there to raise other leaders until their own leadership becomes increasingly unnecessary. If you lead by serving, you can be guaranteed of having followers because you never miss them along the journey. If you simply walk in front or above them, you may be surprised somewhere along the journey to discover that you left your followers way behind or below you, if at all they are still following. Hold their hand and take a genuine interest in them.
Many “leaders” do this “caring business” as an Emotional Intelligence routine just to give the impression that they care about people so that people feel valued in order for them to create a good working environment, even if they are not genuinely doing it from the heart. Unfortunately the day your followers will discover that your care and love is fake and cosmetic, is the day you lose their respect, trust and following.
My mom who is now a retired teacher says “I am a soldier by birth and teacher by profession.” (She had two brothers in the army and I am sure she feels it in her bones that she is wired to be a soldier). I am challenging you to a see that we have servanthood in our DNA because God created us to serve Him hence “be a servant by birth and a leader by profession”. If you are a true servant, you become a good leader by default. To your followers; be encouraging, support them, believe in them, empower them, allow them to express their full potential and do not put a lid on them so that they do not grow above a certain level. Manage people with your heart first then your head. Engage your softer feminine side and take it easy on the tough masculine pedal. Whether male or female, you can be a good leader to the glory of God. Be blessed.
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