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Servant Leadership

A father took his small daughter to a baseball game one day. As they made their way toward the stadium, the father had a firm grip on his daughter's arm as they crossed the street. The young girl had pushed his hand away and as they made their way across, a driver ran a red light and was headed straight for them. The father, paying attention to his surroundings, quickly grabbed his daughter by the arm and pulled her to safety, saving her life. Once they had made their way to the other side of the street (and the father stopped yelling expletives at the careless driver), the young daughter started crying and pointing at her father saying, "Daddy, you hurt me!". Astonished, he said, "Honey, I saved your life!" She said, "No daddy, you HURT me!" They found their seats and started watching the game. It wasn't until the fourth inning that the girl was willing to smile and climb up and sit in her father's lap, ultimately forgiving him.

This young father was more concerned with protecting the life of his precious daughter than he was with his own popularity in the moment.

Leaders need to do things that are hard for the people that they lead. In the moment they may not like it. A leader must require those they lead into arenas that may make them feel uncomfortable. It is in those moments of discomfort, we will be required to rise to meet a challenge, or we won't. When we don't meet the challenge, our leader is there, supporting us when we feel like we need help. It is that leader's job to help us shore up the weaknesses that may be holding us back so that we can grow to a higher potential.

More and more people are seeing positions of leadership as a reward instead of a responsibility. These people are not willing to do the basic tasks of their job. They see their role/position as their end of the road, a lifetime reward for the years they've been a part of their organization, an award of sorts for "working really hard" and being there for a long time. They are driven by a selfish delusion of "now it's my time to sit back and relax".

What they need to realize is that their responsibility is greater than ever. If they have the idea that they've "arrived" and don't have to do much, they won't be willing to do the hard stuff that is required of leaders. Leadership is a responsibility and should be approached and viewed as such. In order to make sure that this happens, the people put in these positions should be vetted in their motivations. Let's stop promoting people who are really only about them. Let's stop promoting people who are driven by selfish desires and are making backdoor deals to advance into positions where they aren't suited for what leadership really is.

You may have heard the term "Servant Leadership" before. People talk about the different styles of leadership there are and servant leadership has been brought up many times lately in circles of conferences and presentations. However, I feel like people should stop talking about "Servant Leadership" and just refer to it as leadership, because in essence, it's the only REAL kind of leadership there is. It's the only kind of VALID leadership anyway.

We must make it unacceptable for people to be put into positions of leadership if they think it's all about them. We need to restore the motivation for wanting to be a leader in the first place. This ideal starts with us, through self assessment.

  1. We have to check our own intentions; If you aren't doing the things that only you as a leader can do, then you aren't doing your job.

  2. We must be willing to hold other leaders accountable; Humbly and respectfully make them aware of the abdication of their responsibility.

  3. We must learn to like meetings; Leaders must look at meetings as a way to gain and share clarity.

  4. We must manage people; Leaders must manage the adults even though they are adults. People need direction and the standards must be kept, by everyone.

  5. We must repeat ourselves constantly; Repeat your mission, your code of conduct and any goal you are trying to work toward.

  6. We must confront difficult conversations; So many leaders avoid this and if it continues, the organization will suffer as a whole.

If people in leadership roles aren't willing to do these things, they don't deserve to be in those positions.

Ultimately, we all hold leadership roles to one extent or another. Our goals should be focused on being the best leader we can be within our scope. As we refine ourselves within our arena, the probability of moving into our desired leadership positions increases.

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