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Servant Leaders

Our children are waiting for International Men’s Day on 19 November 2018. Now there are only 15 sleeps to go.

Why are they waiting?

Our children are waiting for good leadership from their Dads. To be a father is to be a leader. Men are leaders and must accept the responsibilities of leadership in society. Women are leaders too but if men don’t lead in the right way along with women, we are all in a really bad way. We all need each other.

What are the keys to being a good leader?

The new International Men’s Day website says, “Men leading by example”.  Albert Einstein had this to say about the power of example and why people should focus on this as key to change. “Example isn’t another way to teach, it is the only way to teach.”  On the best way to lead Albert Einstein said, “The high destiny of the individual is to serve rather than to rule.”

Lao Tzu said, “a leader is best when people barely know he exists, not so good when people obey and acclaim him, worse when they despise him … but of a good leader who talks little when his work is done, his aim fulfilled they will say, ‘we did it ourselves’.”

Robert K Greenleaf (1904-1990), a well-known management and leadership consultant published his breakthrough book, ‘The Servant as Leader’.

“The idea of the servant as leader came out of reading Hermann Hesse’s Journey to the East. In this story, we see a band of men on a mythical journey… The central figure of the story is Leo, who accompanies the party as the servant who does their menial chores, but who also sustains them with his spirit and his song. He is a person of extraordinary presence. All goes well until Leo disappears. Then the group falls into disarray and the journey is abandoned.

 They cannot make it without the servant Leo. The narrator, one of the party, after some years of wandering, finds Leo and is taken into the Order that had sponsored the journey. There he discovers that Leo, whom he had known first as servant, was in fact the titular head of the Order, its guiding spirit, a great and noble leader.”

Of his philosophy, Robert Greenleaf wrote in Essentials,

“The servant-leader is servant first… Becoming a servant-leader 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… 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 the most difficult to administer, is this: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?”

So, our children wait patiently for International Men’s Day in the hope their fathers will become true servant leaders. They live in hope that the very existence of this celebration will help men realise their full potential as servant leaders.

True servant leaders help other people grow as persons. To paraphrase Robert Greenleaf: Dads, who are servant leaders, help their children become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous and more likely to become leaders themselves. As I have always said, “A good father makes himself redundant”, but the irony of the story is that the more he makes himself redundant, the more valuable he becomes to his children and to his family. The children often only realise this when he leaves the planet.

Just as Leo in Greenleaf’s story of the servant who does not draw attention to himself, so it is with a good father. A good father is a good servant leader. A great father is a great servant leader. As Lao Tzu said, “A leader is best when people barely know he exists”.  That reminds me of another father, who when he described himself said, “Come learn of me for I am meek and humble of heart”. Father God, who has not drawn attention to himself, to such an extent that many don’t realise how valuable he is to their lives. The ultimate servant leader!

The essence of being a great dad is to become a great servant leader.

Welcome to the journey!

Lovework

Become a person like Leo in Hermann Hesse’s story, a true servant leader.

Sustain your family with your ‘spirit and song’ even if you can’t sing.

Yours for more servant leaders

Warwick Marsh

PS: We invite you to join us for the ‘Positive Male Role Models Webinar‘ next Thursday 8 November 2018 at 8PM-AEDT (Sydney Time – Australia). Our special guest for the ‘Positive Male Role Models Webinar’ is Dr Jerome Teelucksingh, founder of International Men’s Day. Uma Challa a Mens Advocate from India and worldwide promoter of IMD will also feature. We will have other guests as well.  The Webinar can be accessed by either web or phone. Register here.

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