Servant leadership is a very hard thing to accomplish sometimes due to the fact that it can be difficult to fully put others in front of our own needs or wants. “The reality is that we’re all self-serving to a degree because we come into this world with a self-serving heart……The journey of life is to move from a self-serving heart to a serving heart.
You finally become an adult when you realize that life is about what you give rather than what you get,” (Kouzes and Posner, p.105). One way to become an effective servant leader is to watch and learn from other servant leaders. Another way is by learning from your own personal experiences with servant leaders.
One of the first person that enabled me to act as a servant leader was my mom and dad. My mom and dad have different servant leadership qualities. I have absorbed their qualities over the years by the example that they set for my sister and I growing up. I think that for my family these are qualities that have been passed down through several generations for both on my mom’s side of the family as well as my dad’s side. “The core of any family is what is changeless, what is always going to be there—shared vision and values,” (Covey, 2004, p. 138).
When it comes to my dad, he has always had a Win/Win attitude. “The principle of Win/Win is fundamental to success in all our interactions, and embraces five interdependent dimensions of life. It begins with character and moves toward relationships, out of which flow agreements. It is nurtured in an environment where structure and systems are based on Win/Win,” (Covey, 2004, p.216).
My dad has a very strong character and he is content with his life. I believe that he has all of the three character traits that are described in the book, ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,’ by Stephen Covey. He has integrity, maturity, and abundance mentality. I think that in every situation my dad has shown these qualities in my life and has always put others in front of his own needs, especially family.
My mom has always taught me to try and see the situation from someone else’s side before I react or judge someone. “As you learn to listen deeply to other people, you will discover tremendous differences in perception. You will also begin to appreciate the impact that these differences can have as people try to work together in interdependent situations,” (Covey, 2004, p.253).
My mom has always been a great listener in her professional and personal life. She worked as a nurse practitioner for over 30 years, so she has really had to listen to people and then try in taking the information that she was given into a diagnoses for that person. In her personal life she has always been available for me to talk to her about anything.
I have never felt judged by her when I had to share something that I was proud of and she always would try to understand my thinking on the particular situation. She would take the information that I would tell her and analyze it and try to understand it and then she would give her advice or opinion on the matter.
When I hear the phrase “servant leadership,” I always think of Jesus. I think he is the greatest example that we have for a servant leader. He never asked any of his followers to do something that he wouldn’t do himself. “Jesus embodies the ultimate example of someone who fostered collaboration and strengthened individuals. A lot of people talk about Jesus as if he were a soloist.
They seem to forget that a large part of his ministry was in collaboration with others,” (Kouzes and Posner, p.87). Jesus served other people through his teachings and examples. He was able to build a team that work together and a sense of trustworthiness with every member of his team.
My final goal as a leader is to build trust between my coworkers and I and also to have a sense of synergy in my professional and personal life on a frequent basis. Organizations that seem to have trust among their employees are usually successful. It also seems that the organizations that don’t frequently trust at all will not be successful and fail.
I know that being any kind of effective leader take work, but I know that I have the patience to battle through the tough times and enjoy the good and successful times with my ‘teammates,’ whether it is my personal family or my professional family. “May we learn to see people through God’s eyes and enable them to act. May we learn to make heroes of those we lead, I’m grateful that many people modeled these leadership practices for me and for you. Someday, let it also be said of us that we came alongside and helped another human being flourish in their calling,” (Kouzes and Posner, p.97-98).
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Covey, S. (2004). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Inc.
Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. Christian Reflections on the Leadership Challenge. (2004). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.