The highest type of ruler is one of whose existence the people are barely aware. -Lao Tzu[Share This: Twitter | LinkedIn]
Here’s a dirty little secret: many of us think we’re servant leaders, until we’re really tested – myself included.
You see, in our daily jobs, it’s easy to cast off the credit, saying, “Oh, no, it’s not me, it’s really this great team behind me that deserves your praise.” But this is a false humility, because at the end of the day, everybody knows it’s the team you’re accountable for. They know you really deserve at least some of the credit.
And inside, you know they know that.
It’s only when nobody knows your role or even, who you are, that your ability to serve is tested [Share this on Twitter | LinkedIn]. I experienced this myself this past week and it opened my eyes.
I was called to serve the World LEADERS Conference by leading a small team of bloggers. This team had the opportunity to meet and interview amazing leadership experts like Bill Hybels, Ken Blanchard, Mark Sanborn, and many more. But my job was to serve the team.
So there I was sitting in the green room, backstage at the event, watching Dan Rockwell, an amazing leadership blogger and speaker, interview Jack and Suzy Welch, when it hit me. I realized how badly I wanted to be the one interviewing them. I wanted to be recognized as a great leadership blogger and all I had to do was speak up to do so.
The truth is, every one of the speakers and conference coordinators would have let me hold interviews as well. However, it would have taken away from those I served and made the event a bit more stressful for the speakers. No, that was not my role. I was there to serve.
The truth is, I thought I was really good about serving others. But this event tested me. Deep inside, I felt that longing you only know when you’re truly behind the scenes. I would introduce speakers to the team but they’d never know me from Adam. And I’m okay with that, because I was called to serve.
Question: Are you really ready to serve your team?
Ben, thank you for sharing your insights on such an important matter. This is a lesson far too easily slipped to another day. In our culture of self-glorification, we frequently come face to face with false humility, but I think it’s because we hold to a false sense of servant leadership, or any leadership for that matter. We have somehow come to think leaders are those who are always talking about leadership. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our walk talks for us, and someone is always listening, even when we are doing our part from behind the scenes (of course, it is my view the only time a servant leader should be anyplace else is when the people put them there). We lead because we love those we serve; there is no other reason. If we love them through our service, we’ll never need a ticker tape parade. I appreciate you!
As usual, you hit the nail on the head, Jack. I especially appreciated this, “We lead because we love those we serve; there is no other reason. If we love them through our service, we’ll never need a ticker tape parade.” Thanks for sharing, Jack. I appreciate you as well!