HeartI was recently cleaning up some trails in the woods and ran across a sizeable rock that was somewhat buried. For safety purposes I felt the rock should be dug up and removed from the trail.

I have moved many rocks like this in the past. Normally what you see above the surface is about ¼ – ½ the rock so it is not too much of a challenge to dig it out and move it off the trail. This rock turned out to be much more challenging. Only about 5-10% of the rock ended up being exposed, and the balance was buried.

This rock had much more depth, stability, and balance than what met the eye. This got me thinking about leadership. What you normally see in a leader is their skills, and their physical talents in leading people. What you don’t see, that which is below the surface and in their heart, is their character.

I feel it is this aspect of leadership that separates servant leaders from just normal leaders who may or may not have shown signs of success.  The depth of a leader’s character, what is in their heart, is what will separate a true servant leader from the pack. 

In Warren Bennis’ book, The Leadership Advantage, he points out that research at Harvard University indicates that 85% of a leader’s performance depends on their personal character, qualities of their heart. 

Key aspects of a servant leader’s heart that will separate them from the pack would include:

  • A true desire to serve others, above and beyond one’s self
  • A true desire for never ending development of one’s ability
  • A passion for excellence
  • A willingness to always accept responsibility for their actions
  • Committed to be humble and vulnerable
  • A true desire to make a positive impact on society

The great thing about all these things is they are a choice. While issues of the heart don’t change overnight, we can be intentional about working towards positively developing each of these areas of our character in an effort to become effective servant leaders.

Join me in checking each of these areas to see how we are doing. Ask others (truth tellers) their opinions of you in these areas as well. Then commit yourself to driving improvement. It will make an impact on your level of influence and the significance of your work and life! 

Mark Deterding

 “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle, be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”  Ephesians 4:13