Service Leadership – A Great Opportunity

Service Leadership is a big buzzword these days in the world of Leadership.  Today I learned exactly what that means to me… I am happiest when I am serving someone.  I spent the day today with an 80-year-old lady, who fairly recently lost her husband.  Together we packed and collected what was left in their home of 19 years.  As we packed she talked and told stories of their life.  There were tears, and laughs and a few dirty words.  But I was happy.  I am happiest when I serve others.


Kindness, humility, and discernment demonstrated through true, genuine service leadership can change people, organizations and our world.So what does this mean for us as leaders in the area of service leadership?

My humble opinion of service leadership (and it’s not scientific) comes from the heart.  A need and desire to see everyone achieve success.  Whatever their success might be defined as….And through their success, I find my success.  I also believe that service leadership brings us to the ultimate peak of ensuring that those we lead feel of value and worth.  They should know that they are worth our time and our effort,  through our service.  That might be accomplished in many ways.  However, here are my three key components to true service leadership.



Kindness is the action of being kind.  I find that kindness comes from your eyes and a true desire to be considerate, or helpful.  Kindness is the purest of acts and in no way, shape or form means you approve or agree with the person’s actions or beliefs but that you are kind to the journey that has brought them to meet or work with you.  


You can’t fake kindness.  As a leader, this must be our first approach to those that we work with.  A willingness to listen with a mild and gentle approach to their reality and perception is the first step to being a service leader.  


Kindness fuels only more kindness.  It ignites others desire to also be kind, and it extinguishes pettiness, untruths and gossip.   



There is nothing that will take away the core of who you are… no perception by others, no remarks by others, and no actions by others will take away the person you or the leader you have developed into.  With that in mind… there is nothing BELOW us…. Can you do lunch duty? YEP.  Can you check the bathrooms? YEP.  Can you teach a class?  YEP.  Can you answer the phone? ……… you know the answer… YEP!


Humility is a characteristic that guides you as you journey through service leadership.  


A remark was made today by a friend of mine when I mentioned what I had been working on today… I thought that would be beneath you.  Absolutely NOT.  Because honestly, the physical work wasn’t the real job at hand.  The real job at hand, was to listen.  It was to smile, laugh and hug her when she cried for her husband and the life they shared.


Always focus with humility on the real job.  



To me the final characteristic for a leader who is working within service leadership is the gift of discernment.  The ability to discriminate the actions and words of people.  An understanding of where they are coming from without them telling you.  This skill allows you to perceive or recognize the depth of the need a person has and will guide you to the right way to serve them.


Discernment is not something you can just go out and get.  But slowing down and listening is a good place to start.  Watch carefully and with deliberateness as you observe your staff.  There are always key signs as to the needs of you team… you just have to be willing to receive the keys.


Kindness, humility, and discernment demonstrated through true, genuine service leadership can change people, organizations and our world.

A few years back, I had the rare opportunity to arrange lunch for the teachers of the school that my children attend.  (You know I have an in with a restaurant.)  I don’t get to volunteer much with my job… but when I do…. I like to get in, do it big and then be done.  


We collected donations and then I begged (insert manipulated) my brother into catering their lunch.


The catch was that I dressed in black pants, crisp white shirt and an apron.  AND I served them.  I got them what they needed, cleaned up their dirty dishes, asked if everything was delicious and made certain they enjoyed their  25 minutes lunch.  It was great fun and they were all very pleased.


A week later, I received a note from one of the teachers.  She raved about the food and what a fantastic lunch it was…. and then she noted that my service made her realize that if I could do that… (she insinuated with my national elite profession – it wasn’t that elite….)  then everyone could take a lesson from my service.  She went on to commit to upping her game in the area of service.  Service at school, in the community and for her family.

Kindness, humility, and discernment demonstrated through true, genuine service can change people, organizations and our world.  How do you feel about service leadership?  What are your thoughts?

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