Servant Leadership

April 2005

Today, I join millions across the world today in praying for the beloved, dying Pope John Paul II. It is difficult for me to focus on “business” today, as my heart and mind keep dwelling on the pope, his remarkable life, and what he modeled for us all. He blended deep faith, spirituality, and belief in God with the ability to connect with people of all ages, religions, and stations in life. So today, I wanted to write about servant leadership, something Pope John Paul II embodied in his approach to the world’s most humble and most powerful.

To me, servant leadership is reflected in those who understand the needs of others, and seek to empower them to have those needs met. Some key attributes of servant leaders are the ability to nurture trust; courage; humility; and collaborative approaches to challenges. It may seem contradictory to think of a servant and a leader as the same person, but to me it seems perfectly natural. Many of the best leaders that I have known are those who instinctively strive to make others successful. They are good listeners, and they expect to be able to improve the lives of those they serve. They don’t rely on status or titles to be seen as leaders; they often shun the limelight. They work alongside others. They may eschew the popular or easy choice, in favor of the tough choices that will benefit others the most.

Mahatma Gandhi said “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” As I seek to find myself, and understand who I am and what my gifts are, I often find that I learn the most when I am serving others. That is certainly where I find the most joy and fulfillment: helping others to grow and recognize their own power and magic.

I hope that this month, you will consider how you might be a servant leader, at work, at home or in your community. If I can support you in that exploration, please ask.

Sharon Keys Seal

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