The term “servant leader” has been around for quite awhile. I’ve used it to describe myself during interviews. I hear job applicants use it all the time to characterize themselves. Some of you might think – “This doesn’t apply to me, I’m not a leader.” It is always beneficial to keep John Maxwell’s definition of leadership tucked in the back of our minds: “Leadership is influence. Nothing more, nothing less.” So if you influence just one other person on planet Earth, you are a leader. Leaders are not just bosses, government officials, pastors, and CEOs.
The custodian influences whether a facility is germ free, clean, and safe.
The single parent influences the future of her children while performing a multitude of roles.
The teenager behind the fast food counter influences whether customers will leave with a positive impression of a restaurant.
The volunteers in the church nursery influence whether a baby feels love and comfort while their parents are away.
You get the idea.
In fact, a study reported in the book Bold states that 80% of the jobs in the United States are connected to the service industry. So the odds are fairly high you serve somebody.
The tricky part also is that we are being watched by people we don’t even realize – so we can be influencing in a positive or a negative way and be totally clueless about it.
So what does it mean to be a servant leader? Do a search on Amazon and you will see there is a vast supply of books on the subject. Actually, one of them has been on my nightstand for over a year that remains partially read. Here are some highlights from leaders I respect:
St. Louis Cardinal’s Manager Mike Matheny has written a book called The Matheny Manifesto. Along with various other topics, he tackles servant leadership. In fact, he spent several years studying the subject. He believes strongly in leading by example as a positive role model, to keep growing in character, and to visualize in your mind an upside down organizational hierarchy chart.
Dan Rockwell states in a recent Twitter post about servant leadership: “Leading is serving, nothing more, nothing else, nothing less. . . Servants serve, but servant-leaders enable others to serve. That makes all the difference.” (@Leadership Freak July 17, 2016)
Dave Ramsey’s definition from the book Entreleadership. “Once I understood that I am serving my team by leading them, just like I am serving my children by parenting them, I relaxed. I might serve a team member by reprimanding him or even by allowing him to work somewhere else . . . I am serving them (my team) by teaching and mentoring them. I am serving them to their good and the good of the organization.” (pg. 17)
Here’s the David Rische summarization:
Show up on time, do your job and do it well, and act like a professional.
That simple formula would eliminate at least 90% of the problems in the workplace.
So in conclusion – remember that you are a leader (hopefully the servant type), you have tremendous influence wherever you are, and you are being watched.
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).