“One thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.”
If you frequent GeneralLeadership.com, then I’m willing to bet even money that you are driven to lead and succeed. You do both because you are ambitious. You do both because you wish to bring your craft to the world and to make a dent in your corner of the universe.
You aspire to lead and succeed because you desire career advancement. To attain a position of power, responsibility, or expertise that is the mark of a successful professional. You do all of these and I commend you. For those who are driven to lead and succeed, are the passionate few that drive innovation and organizational excellence.
The truth is that our aspiration to be the best in our organization, to be a leader, to be the person others turn to when the chips are down: only comes about in reality when our provision of value to others hits a tipping point. That magic way-point in our professional career occurs only when our drive, technical competence, and value delivery is noticed by the right person or people, and we go from one of the many to one of the capable.
When Service and Aspiration Conspire
We become one of the capable when our service and aspirations conspire to bring about purpose-driven leadership. Most people are comfortable with the concept of service and servant leader. If you’re not familiar with the concept of “servant leader”, then please put your hands on a copy of Servant Leadership by Robert Greenleaf. Although servant leadership is a timeless concept, Greenleaf is considered to be the individual responsible for reintroducing it to the modern world.
A 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 peoples’ 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?”
When service and aspiration conspire, you get the servant-leader. And that person is one who is driven with a rock-solid purpose of delivering value to others. Regardless what type of organization we work in, public or private sector, make no mistake. You’re expected to provide value.
The servant-leader puts value proposition first and foremost in what they do and how they deliver their craft.
4 Thoughts On Service and Aspiration
If you’re a visitor to this site, then you’re also more than likely a high-tempo, type-A personality who is interested in career advancement without career alienation. You don’t view the world as a zero-sum game or if you do, you know you want to change that world-view to one of mutual collaboration.
Then here are four thoughts on service and aspiration for you to contemplate:
- Energy is good and is desirable in young leaders. What is not, is stepping on or using others to gain advancement. None of us will move through our professional career without witnessing someone else who uses others to move ahead. It’s certainly one way to move forward and sometimes senior leadership will mistake outward appearances for capability and effectiveness. However, aspiration through alienation is not a proven method for long-term success. It’s the antithesis of servant leadership, self-serving and morally repugnant. If you operate in this realm or believe this is the path to take for forward advancement, please consider your alternatives.
- You’re growing or you’re dying. Pick one. Being driven to succeed is a mindset, a mental toughness that drives us through adversity and over hurdles to achieve an objective. A servant leader is always growing in knowledge, both technical and core skills like communications, relationship building and emotional intelligence.
- Don’t Wait to Lead. Leadership can be thrust on people, it can be sought, it can be conveyed by position. Servant leaders, however, don’t wait to be picked. They serve other people with their talents, drive, and passion where they are with what they have. If you are waiting to lead, why?
- Earn a P.H.D. A Chief I served with told me one day that he held a “PHD” early in his career. I was impressed. Where did you earn it? Why didn’t you cross-over into the officer corps I thought? His PHD didn’t come from a college. He told me he was “poor, hungry, and driven”.
Chief’s PHD was a mindset of approaching his career, his projects and the leadership he provided. People respected him, they relied on him. His word carried much weight and I thought then and there, that is the advanced degree I need. That would be the PHD that would help me bring value to the world, value to other people, and value to myself.
Are you working on your advanced degree every day? Are you willing to serve others in such a way that your actions bring value to them first? If you are, then you are driven to lead and succeed and others will willingly follow you. Onwards.