There are leaders who strive to be in a position of strength and upon reaching their goal, they command respect. These people are known as leaders-first.
There are also leaders who humbly accept the nomination of their peers to help guide them toward their goals. They are known as servants-first.
Of course there are leaders who are not well-skilled to handle the responsibilities of their position and would feel more content in being a follower.
And there are those who reside somewhere in-between.
“The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…” ~ Robert K. Greenleaf, greenleaf.org.
Leaders-first individuals are easy to identify and find. They are bombastic and proudly display their ego like they are parading down a fashion show runway.
It takes keen observation and awareness to find servant-leaders in the chaos and craziness of our busy lives. But thankfully, they exist and help shape the world to become a better place for all of us to live.
At times, servant leaders face stiff competition and must routinely power their way through overwhelming adversity and opposition to their ideas and goals.
Servant leaders are always prepared (semper paratus) and they will grin (or grimace) and bear (pun intended) a heavy load to ensure the success of their team.
There are times when servant leaders are forced out of their active roles and must heal from their injuries. However, they humbly stand behind their team and offer active support and encouragement, never waiting for someone else to do that job. They rest, contemplate how to improve, and prepare for the moment to return to the position they honor and respect.
With a healthy balance of pride and humility, servant leaders rise above the hardships and fight for their goal: to propel their team to personal and organizational success. They are not intimidated by formidable opponents and they earn the admiration of teammates, parents, relatives, and fans.
So you see, being a servant leader is not hard to “do.” For many, it comes naturally in the passion we show while playing sports, or being a good parent, or an enthusiastic fan.
“A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid,” servant leadership is different. The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.” ~ Robert K. Greenleaf, greenleaf.org.
The world needs more servant leaders and you and I have all the education, skills, and experience to make a difference in the lives of those around us. Please, serve the community around you because someone is desperately in need of your unique gifts!
Like the Bears of the Coast Guard Academy, may each of us be Semper Paratus, to serve others.
Be Kind. Be Thankful. Be Significant.