I love lighthouses. I used a lighthouse on the original website design for Triune Leadership Services as I felt it depicted many of the same attributes of servant leadership.
Why A Lighthouse
It may seem like a peculiar stretch to compare a lighthouse to servant leadership. However, as you focus on the main function of a lighthouse, you will start to see the parallel.
How do you define success? Is it tied to profitability and output? Is it about making more money or producing more than you did last year or in the past?
Profitability and output are certainly good barometers of progress. It is absolutely important that you build performance and improve your results on a consistent basis. If you don’t, you won’t be able to achieve your purpose and vision.
How does it happen that your second grader’s teacher compliments you on the fact that your daughter shared with the class how she had played out her family’s value of generosity?
It surely doesn’t happen by accident. It only occurs when you as a parent get intentional about your family’s purpose, vision and values as part of your family portrait.
Servant leadership is a journey, not a destination. You are not born a servant leader, nor do you become one overnight. I believe, however that God desires all of us to be on the journey towards servant leadership. (Mark 10:43-45)
Leaders participating in Triune Leadership Services’ Year 5/6 Leadership Roundtable are currently working on understanding themselves as leaders. There are a number of facets to this process, one of which is looking at your life’s journey or experiences. This is helpful in understanding how you currently lead, and where you might want to focus your efforts in developing yourself as the servant leader that God created you to be.
As I was enjoying my Father’s Day on Sunday I was remembering my dad and reflecting on the servant leadership lessons that I learned him. My father was my lifetime leadership mentor. The example he set will always be the foundation for the way I lead. Here are a few of the lessons I learned from my dad about servant leadership.
I learned the importance of humility. He was the humblest of men, never looking to bring attention to himself but instead always working behind the scenes on behalf of his family and co-workers.
A servant leader’s primary responsibility is to build leaders.
It is often easy to think we are serving others by providing them answers or just doing their work. Sometimes that can even be the most efficient way to get things done. But by doing so, you are actually delaying progress in your team’s development, and heaping more responsibility on yourself. Therefore you are severely limiting progress.
School is out and summer is here. Traditionally this is the time of year when people normally think about taking vacation. I hope you are thinking along these lines, and are planning on getting away from your normal work routine and taking a vacation.
Early in my career I had a great boss who I highly respected. I was the General Manager of a printing plant, and he had a unique rule for his leaders that he absolutely held me to every year. He demanded that I take at least one 2-Week vacation per year. It had to be 2 weeks straight!
Servant leadership is many things, but one thing it is not is “Soft”. Servant leaders have high expectations, both for themselves, as well as for their team.
One key way that servant leaders make things better in an organization is to create and share clear, reasonable, and measurable expectations and performance goals. Then they measure performance and hold everyone accountable for their responsibilities.
Servant leaders have a never-ending passion for personal development and serving others for the greater good of their environment. I witnessed that first hand last week.
I was blessed with the opportunity to speak to the NEXT Willmar Group in Willmar, MN about servant leadership. NEXT is a group of young leaders that was originally spawned from the Chamber of Commerce in Willmar. Their purpose is:
To attract and retain young talent in the community while developing the next generation of leaders.
Willmar is a community of about 20,000 residents. Five years after forming, the NEXT Group has in excess of 200 members, all leaders under the age of 40 who have a passion for their community and for personal development.
In discussions with members of this group I learned that they have 4 primary areas of focus:
- Personal development (They organize specific training and learning events throughout each year)
- Community development (They are involved in the establishment of the Vision 20 / 40 Project for the Willmar Lakes Area)
- Charitable work (They organize and promote volunteer opportunities to help various organizations in the community)
- Social development and FUN! (All events include a social activity to enable members to build relationships.)
This is a group that has gotten outwardly intentional about building servant leaders to insure a bright future for themselves and their community. Think about how they are building the following key elements of servant leadership:
- Foundation – They are crystal clear on their purpose and vision. All their activity and events move them towards the fulfillment of that Foundation.
- Energy – They collectively let each other know how important they are for the future of their city. They encourage each other and have fun in all their activities.
- Performance – This is one of the primary reasons young leaders join NEXT. Each of the members is committed to advancing their personal performance as a leader. Plus they want to advance the performance of their community.
- Relationships – All their activities are built with the intention of building relationships. They clearly recognize this will be what holds their community together into the future.
- Character – They recognize that their membership and activity in NEXT will help them build their personal character, which they know is critically important for a leader to be effective.
What are you doing to be intentional about enhancing your personal development and building a culture of servant leadership in your environment?
For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers. Proverbs 11:14
I observed another great lesson of recognizing the power of the example you set as a leader this weekend at my niece’s wedding.
Once we arrived at the wedding reception, my 2-year-old granddaughter, Sylvia was noticing the older children out on the dance floor and some of their activities. She quickly proceeded to go out and follow them around doing whatever they were doing, which was some of the wildest, fastest pace dancing you have ever seen, among other things.