Leadership Limerick: Servant Leadership is the Way

Every Monday, I offer a leadership limerick, highlighting an idea or strategy about effective leadership in limerick form. Searching for leadership limerick will identify previous posts.

Truthfully it isn’t about you
But instead it's what you can do

Supporting others is the game
Servant leadership is its name

And doing so benefits you, too. 

In The Servant as Leader, former AT&T CEO Robert Greenleaf introduced the phrase servant-leader:
"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…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature."
"The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?"

An underlying sense contributing to both Tea Party rallies and Occupy Wall Street protests is that people in formal leadership positions increasingly are in it for personal gain … or at least experience significant personal gain at the expense of others.  It's frustrating to think that elected officials and corporate officers might be more concerned about self-interest or a special interest lobby rather than our interests.  Citizens expect our government leaders to serve our needs.  Corporate stockholders and nonprofit stakeholders expect those in charge to act in ways that contribute to the greater good, not just their own pockets.

Too many people have lost sight of being servant-leaders.  They focus more on self-interest and self-promotion in ways that ignore, marginalize, or inhibit the growth and interests of others.  The irony is that by choosing to serve first, to do good rather than focus on making yourself look good, significant benefits accrue to one's self-interest as well.  When we are generous and contribute to others' well-being, we eventually find our well-being enhanced as well.

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