The Problem: Toxic Leadership
Business: You see it in business, when narcissistic executives build golden parachutes and steal from tomorrow to make today look good.
Academia: You see it in Academia when professors forget the students in their march toward self-promotion and prominence in their field.
Religion: You see it in churches where the minister’s name appears above the savior’s.
Non-Profits: You see it in charities that put growth and recognition ahead of the needs of the suffering.
Government: You see it in government when politicians promote themselves over the needs of their constituents.
You see it in every sector, industry, region and country when leaders forget their priority is to serve their stakeholders first. Yet, there is a small but growing number of us who know there is a better way. That way is called servant leadership…
Yet Another Example
Another executive was arrested today. It’s all over the news. “Executive embezzles millions”, “CFO Defrauds thousands of investors”, “Auditors deny any fault”. And the public cries out, “We need better governance, stronger regulations, tougher penalties!” Yet, inside we all know that the guilty will always find shortcuts. Toxic leaders will inevitably abuse their power for self-gain. Those of us with the solution know what we really need are more servant leaders.
For those of you who seek only personal fame, fortune and glory, we tell you there is a better way. To those who desire false authority through positional power, we say you will cause more pain, through selfishness and greed than you comprehend. To you toxic leaders we say: observe the true power, real authenticity and sustainability of servant leadership.
The Answer: Servant Leadership
We seek not to lead, but to serve first and find that, in serving, our greatest influence is leading. We seek not to use others for our own gain, but for their benefit and the benefit of their communities.
You say we are too soft and unfit to manage in demanding environments.
But we say some of the greatest servant leaders are military officers who prepare their troops in peace and execute effectively in war. We say the greatest servant leaders are stronger for their effectiveness in applauding and reprimanding appropriately. The servant leader serves all – including their shareholders, customers, employers and staff – not their ego.
You say good guys finish last. We say the servant leader runs a different race. The toxic leader runs a sprint. The servant leader runs a marathon.
You layoff by the thousands to achieve a couple cents better on the stock market for a season. We hold others accountable, but layoff as a last resort – only when required for the greater good and long-term sustainability of all stakeholders.
You wage wars under false pretenses and say dirty politics are necessary to achieve your objectives. We wage wars on dirty politics, back stabbing and false pretenses, saying transparency and candor wins in the end.
You say religion has no place in the office, but we say servant leadership is supported by most world religions and even agnostics and atheists with strong morals and ethics.
Your communications are few, tight lipped and reveal only the most refined, highly commercialized messages yet unsubstantiated marketing claims. We demand active listening, candor and transparency. When we can not be more transparent, we are candid in explaining why.
You seek fame and fortune, magazine covers and lime lights. We are everywhere, behind the scenes of great success – be it a Fortune 500 or a 5th grade classroom, though you’ve likely never heard our name.
You deflect blame and steal praise. We pass along the praise and pull in the blame.
We are servant leaders. Our time has come. We seek a better way and we hope you will join us.
Call to Action
We do have a crisis of leadership today. Won’t you help us end this crisis by joining the movement to spread awareness, adoption and support of Servant Leadership principles? If you are willing, we have some steps you can take below.
- Spread the word on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or other sites below
- Read more about servant leadership
- Sign up for eMail or RSS updates here
- Get Servant Leadership Updates from MSL on Twitter
- Get Servant Leadership Updates from the Greenleaf Center on Twitter
- Join the Servant Leadership Group on LinkedIn
- Join the Servant Leadership Community on Ning
- Visit the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership
- Visit the Spears Center for Servant Leadership
Credit Note: I appreciated the framing from the Hacker Manifesto and used a similar form in the section “Another Example.”