6 Facets of the Servant Leadership Diamond
November 17, 2009
Operations and IT Consultant
TopicsDiamond, Leadership, Servant Leaders
Servant Leaders serve people in pursuit of a goal. We might be tempted to consider only one facet at a time in this statement. However consider all of the dimensions and you'll get a complete picture of great leadership.
Leaders who do not serve but who expect to be served immediately break down the win-win requirement of any successful relationship. All relationships must be win-win to be sustainable.
People who influence things. A leader is one who influences. We naturally are influenced by people with certain characteristics: authenticity, character, sincerity, etc. A leader influences the path and behavior of others.
You can call yourself a servant leader but until you serve others, you're simply dreaming. Many times it's only after you have served that you gain the trust to influence. Quality, significant leadership is borne from service.
People are the only things that matter. Don't be fooled into believing that this life is all there is. Jesus claimed that we will live forever. Therefore everything you do for (or to) people will affect eternity.
The reason why change is central to leadership is that we all "pursue." People who are not in pursuit become stagnant. We were made to create, be and do. Rest is a function of creating, being and doing, not the purpose. We are all in motion, through both time and space. And we all intrinsically want to make things better for ourselves. "In pursuit" packs a lot of power. We also appreciate people on a mission; people who know what they want. If you're standing still, you're falling behind.
Of a Goal
The desired outcome of our efforts. Common, shared goals are energizing. The best goals inspire their effort, sacrifice, and cost. Great goals are worth great effort, but also great goals are often shared by large numbers of people. If your goal is not shared, maybe it's not that great. But that's where leadership makes a full circle. You may need to serve people in order to influence them to pursue your goal. Leadership requires that one manage the circular nature of complex win-win relationships.
Servant leaders serve people in pursuit of a goal. Make sure you polish all of the facets of your diamond. Your leadership diamond will sparkle as you pay attention to all 6 facets.
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I love how you tie together serving with leading. When people know that you really care about them and value their contribution, they will trust your leadership and embrace/support the larger goal. Then everyone truly wins both personally and professionally.
Excellent post Mike!
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Bridget, thanks for the comments. It’s neat how serving and leading work together like that. Serving builds the trust that lubricates the whole relationship.
I especially appreciate this post, Mike. I am a life-long student of leadership and staunch believer in the amazing difference servant leadership makes in the lives of so many! Contemporary examples include India’s Mahatma Gandhi, South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, and our very own Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. Each of these towering men of strength—and forgiveness—in their service to humanity has become a symbol of love and, by extension, the quintessential figures of a servant’s heart. So inspired, it seems to me it is incumbent upon us to continue the legacy of these courageous men with an indefatigable spirit in the redolent hope we transcend the limits imposed by boundaries and unite the hearts of people the world over as one community, one people who value others before self.
Clearly, principled leadership holds global application and appeal. So much so the world yearns for a giving leadership; not the glitzy, glossy, gives-good-press veneer that often passes for leadership in the public eye but, rather, the humble, soft-spoken kind of leadership that invites folks to listen, to trust, and to follow. We yearn for an authentic leadership—a true leadership—always undertaken as a service to the greater good. Such has been the case for millennia. Indeed, for more than a quarter century, the problem of our age has been described as “a crisis in leadership.” “One of the most universal cravings of our time,” suggests James McGregor Burns, “is a hunger for compelling and creative leadership.” I propose this craving is due, in large part, to the absence of our collective will to establish a firm foundation upon which to raise a new generation of leadership, a shepherding kind of leadership we find in the examples of Gandhi, King, Mandela, Corrie ten Boom, Jesus, Native American leaders such as Sitting Bull, and others to satisfy a great and universal yearning to matter, to be loved.
Mike, it’s my sense many understand the need for authentic leaders, but too few know how to respond thinking, perhaps, leading is something one does rather than something one becomes. The truth is leadership gives people, not power, a place to rest—it’s the outward manifestation of a caring heart, passionately concerned for the universal good of all people. A true leader is a source of strength for those who follow. Indeed, the “signs of outstanding leadership,” Max DePree asserts, “are found among the followers.” But let us remember such a role is not reserved exclusively for the few. Martin Luther King, Jr., a personal hero and source of great inspiration for me, taught, “If you want to be important—Wonderful! If you want to be recognized—Wonderful! If you want to be great—Wonderful! But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That’s a new definition of greatness … Everybody can be great because everybody can serve … you only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love and you can be that servant.” By extension, WE can then be that leader.
As I bring this comment to a close, permit me to suggest the time is now for us to take up the cause to nurture a servant’s heart within a new generation who are determined to make a difference among those who have chosen to follow. The time is now to set out with all gusto to help leaders, young and old, discern how to do what’s right. The time is now to bring “ancient paths” (Jeremiah 6:16) within reach of those whose hearts seek to walk in the steps of the greatest leadership role models of all time—servant leaders.
Thank you for a great post, Mike, and thank you for this opportunity to share a few thoughts about a deeply personal passion, servant leadership.
Dr. Jack, Thank you so much for your comment. (Comment seems like an understatement.) I appreciate your passion. Your thoughts and ideas add much explain in richer depth the idea of servant leadership. I especially appreciate your references to Dr. Martin Luther King as well. His words so often connect the idea of true servant leadership to it’s source, the Bible.
Thanks, again, Mike…
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Thank you so much for this post! It’s unfortunate that all too often the pursuit of goal supercedes the value of participants in the process. I appreciate the emphasis that you place on leaders serving people, not merely the end result.
David, thanks very much for the comment. To me, the fine art of servant leadership is to align the participant’s best interests and the team’s goals. People matter. Happy New Year!
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