Servant leadership is more than just serving someone who needs help or at a food pantry. It is an attitude, a way of life, it is who you are and for the most part we all want to help those less fortunate that ourselves. The problem I have seen in this area is a misconception of the term "servant leadership", the emphasis is on the word servant and having a negative feeling associated with it, almost disregarding the leader part. Then there are others who focus on the leadership part and it goes to their head, they suddenly become the all knowing, always right, obey me type of leader, this is not right either.
I know I am not alone when I say I have been under abusive leaders or or leaders who are demanding beyond what is realistic, or even those who think that because they are in the lead they are also in control of everything. When I talk about abuse here it is that of intellectual and emotional abuse, which from my personal experience is harder to recover from. It is sad when you have to deal with that at work, it creates insecurities in what you know to be good work or effective time management or whatever the case may be. These are the leaders that I love to work with because the entire culture of the organization changes, it is not heavy and dominating anymore. There comes a joy or a lightness to the environment that makes growth both personal and professional room to grow, there is no stifling of the spirit so to speak. The changes are obvious and clear, not in the shadows or in search of the right time to be exposed.
The most devastating abuse of power has been within the leadership of churches or religious organizations. This abuse damages the peoples faith, they doubt themselves and their devotion, it effects their personal relationships, their family lives and for some even their professional life. I can tell you many, many stories that I have personally experienced in one way or another but for the sake of peoples privacy I will not. But I will say to those in religious power, check yourself, become self-aware, stop pushing people beyond there means, stop demanding perfection when you yourself are not perfect. This is an emotional area for me as I have seen many hurt and devastated by religious abuses in the name of God. I can easily go on a tall soap box on this topic because it is so close to the heart for me, but I will not because that is not what this post is about.
I want everyone to join in the servant leadership challenge, it is not easy but it is also not hard, it will challenge you to be a better person, a better employee, a better boss, a better wife/husband, just all around better. So the challenge is this, I will list and describe the characteristics and you learn how to implement as many as you can every day, see not hare but not easy either. Oh! And others need to see the changes in you.
The characteristics are not difficult ones:
Listening - Listen to others to understand them not just to reply to them.
Empathy - Be supportive to the needs of others.
Healing - There are healing powers in being supportive toward others.
Self-Awareness - Know your strengths and weaknesses, your values and how your experiences have shaped who you are as a person.
Persuasion - Build a consensus, seek to convince others not coerce compliance.
Conceptualization - Have the ability to dream past the day-to-day activities.
Foresight - Learn from past lessons, deal with the present and see the possibilities for the future outcomes.
Stewardship - Doing things for the good of others.
Growth - Empower others to see the need for personal and professional growth and their developmental needs.
Building Community - Foster a sense of community personally and professionally.
Vocation - A calling, a deep desire to make a difference for others.
Nurturing the spirit - Through honest praise and supportive recognition.
These are just brief descriptions of each one, I encourage you to do your own research about each one and how you can make a difference in the lives of those around you. I can make this promise that if you practice these attributes consistently those around you will take notice, you will gain respect and trust in addition to people being drawn to a new happier more involved you.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic as it is one of my favorites.
Until next time!