Servant-Leadership is concerned with: Essential Life Agreements. Greenleaf reminds us, over and over and over that the servant-first strives to be awake (and hence, probably disturbed by what he or she ‘sees’) and aware (to be fully present in the ‘now’) and to be intentional and purpose-full (to choose, to be unconditionally response-able and to prepare so that one is able to be appropriately responsive and appropriately reactive; not choosing ‘unconditional’ blame). The servant-first will make certain agreements that then enable him or her to more consistently be as Greenleaf suggests. Here are my four ‘Essential Life Agreements.’
• Speak rooted in integrity.
• Listen with undefended receptivity.
• Inquire from a place of trust and not knowing.
• Act from a core of deep love.
Servant-Leadership is concerned with: The Difficult Things that Servant-Leaders Need to Do. When I guide a retreat for leaders or when I guide a ‘work-treat’ for leaders (by the by, a ‘work-treat’ is part workshop and part retreat) or when I guide a learning session for leaders, sometime during the experience I invite each leader to emerge a list of ‘The Most Difficult Things’ for them to do. I have been offering this invitation for more than thirty years. What continues to give me pause is that the leaders do not ‘name’ things like: Plan, Organize, Prioritize, etc. I have kept a list of the ‘Difficult Things’ and here are the top five. I invite you, gentle reader to emerge your own list.
• Return Love for Hate.
• Include the Excluded.
• Admitting that ‘I’ am wrong or ‘I’ have hurt you – AND – seek forgiveness.
• Offer Forgiveness & Seek Healing [the leader ‘harms’ others and also he or she does violence to self].
• Be Vulnerable [to be transparent, to take risks – the risk of caring, & to carry the wound with grace].
Servant-Leadership is concerned with: Correcting ‘Errors.’ Consider that an ‘error’ is the gap between what one espouses and what one ‘lives out.’ We are, by nature, imperfect beings and so we will always create these gaps – some are more like ‘grand canyon gaps’ than ‘step-over’ gaps. We must be awake, aware and open to discerning these gaps, to naming them, and then to making a commitment to close them (again, we will never completely close them – the goal is not perfection but consistency). What are some common gaps for leaders? Consider these:
• Leaders espouse that people are the most ‘important’ and then create a gap by naming them and relating to them as ‘resources,’ ‘commodities,’ or ‘assets’ – that is, they dehumanize people.
• Leaders espouse ‘equity’ and live out ‘favoritism.’
• Leaders delegate responsibility and withhold authority.
• Leaders espouse excellence and settle for mediocrity (this is one of Greenleaf’s common complaints).
Servant-Leadership is concerned with: Choice. I have in these three posting referred to a number of the ‘choices’ that servant-first leaders are concerned with. Here are a few others:
• Choosing to be motivated by . . . fear, love, care, control, anxiety, certain virtues, or certain vices.
• Choosing to be healthy – Their Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, and Spiritual Health.
• Choosing to embrace ‘being fully human’ – that is, to choose to embrace being ‘living paradoxes.’
• Choosing to be what I have come to name as a ‘Reflective-Participant-Observer’ in his or her own life.
As Gandhi suggests, the servant-first leader chooses to become the change he or she wants to see in the world.