I enjoy power. Power to create, to teach, to inspire. I am not a fan of the dictatorial or bullying type. Having a voice to engage with a variety of people for a variety of causes because of the power to captivate, to educate and, yes, even to entertain is a gift. To this end, power is about service.
HR professionals have, at times, become caught up in the desire/need to have a "seat at the table" (do you hear me retching at the overuse of that phrase?). In doing so, our eyes become incredibly self-focused and we dwell on ways to show ourselves to be valuable and necessary. We attend seminars that tell us how to get our executive teams to welcome us in with open arms; we listen to webinars geared towards personal advancement. Now, understand that I am on-board with the truths in these things, but I would like to submit that the best leaders I've worked with have served their companies/peoples by example and lead the charge as a result.
Servant leadership seems to come easier for women. It's not weakness to those who observe and understand. Take Mother Teresa, for example. She had the ear of many world leaders. She created an entirely new religious order of nuns. She spoke and wrote about the issues of poverty, healthcare and hunger to the world who wanted to hear what she had to say. And she earned the right to be heard by caring for thousands of impoverished and diseased people.
It's not to say that this is only something women can do. As men, we're often not raised to serve others well. We are taught to serve only in as much as you can be served by doing so. And women are not exempt from this thinking either. The workplace has forced this thinking upon both sexes and pushed the boundaries for self-centeredness and self-indulgence. There is a need to return to an air of humility in service so that the cultures we seek to create are founded on lasting principles.
Talent to lead is a skill. It's not all natural. There are those with a natural inclination to lead, but refinement is necessary. Service to others most often helps to refine with lasting results.
Lasting results. Now, there is a concept. So much of what we hope to do is short term. Hard work is needed for all efforts, but consistent approach sustains. In this case, leadership that is focused upon those to be served keeps us honest, impassioned and humble. We should want to get better in the ways we can be effective, not only by attending self-help workshops, but by practicing what we preach by serving those to whom we're delivering the message. Mother Teresa didn't decide to do what she did because someone told her to be a great leader. She did what she did because she was driven to serve. The more she engaged with the people she was to serve, the more she wanted to get better at leading the charge for change. She didn't "serve" for a while (you know, put her time in) and then move on to the speaking circuit, distancing herself from the passionate purpose.
We need to keep our heads in the game. We are some of the most incredible professionals to walk the earth today. We have an opportunity to be impactful and engaging, and thereby able to lead effectively. And we can maintain and expand these truths by serving well those with whom we've been entrusted.