Lionel Logue (1880 – 1953), who was recently portrayed in The King’s Speech, provides a good example of servant leadership in action. Australian born Logue was the speech therapist who successfully treated Duke Albert’s (who became known as King George VI, 1895 -1952), pronounced stutter. More than a simple speech therapist though, Logue became a confidant, friend and advocate for the king. Logue first began treating King George when he was the Duke of York, before the Duke’s brother abdicated the throne, making him the king. It was during this period Logue displayed especially strong servant leadership attributes. With Logue’s support, King George developed into an outstanding leader for the United Kingdom in turbulent times. Below are some examples of the servant leadership porttrayed by Logue:
1. Work with Veterans
One of Logue’s distinctions that caught the attention of royalty, stemmed from his work with war veterans. Known for his stage presence and clear enunciation, he took his speech therapy tactics to help war veterans. The speech therapist was able to help many war veterans whose shell shock and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSDs) resulted in speech impediments. In this effort, Logue did not seek fame or fortune, but where he could be of the greatest service.
2. Personal Risk
As a successful speech therapist, Logue knew some of the common causes of speech impediments were stress and pressure. As a result, he needed to disarm and often calm his clients. At personal risk, early in their relationship, Logue insisted on referring to Duke Albert as “Bertie”. This was to calm the Duke by removing airs of formality, position and expectations. Although the Duke protested in the beginning, he eventually accepted the nickname. Logue’s insistence was in direct opposition to the Duke’s orders. Yet, Lionel knew what was needed and, in fact, never stopped calling him Bertie, even after he became King George.
3. Building Others
As the Duke of York, Albert never wanted the king’s throne. In fact, he dreaded it. His fear of public speech and lack of confidence in himself was so strong he fought to keep his older brother from abdicating the throne. Through all the self-denial and doubt, Lionel protested and reassured his friend, Bertie, that he had all he needed to be a great king. Through these actions, Logue displayed his dedication to building others and serving his country.
King George VI was know to have frequent outbursts and a poor temper. But this did not deter Lionel. Through good times and bad, Logue remained by the King’s side. In fact, he was present at almost all of the King’s major speeches from the time they began working together.
Through his actions and dedication to veterans, Duke, King and Country, Lionel Logue displayed the attributes of a servant leader. You may argue he received fame and fortune, but he never had this as an expectation from this work. Oddly enough, through his service to those who needed him most, he accrued the sort of attention that blockbuster movies are made of, decades later. This is a lesson for all. It is important to serve first and find that, through serving, your greatest contribution is leading those who need you most. It is this sort of service that we all need, appreciate and ultimately, may even make movies about.