A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves. Words by the legendary ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, founder of the philosophical Taoism.
For century’s philosophers, kings, generals, politician and many more have been studying, researching and talking about leadership. Various leaders in history and present are being analyzed for their leadership styles and compared to well-known theories about leadership. While the effectiveness of a certain leadership style can best be judged by putting it in the context of that certain time frame and situation, many of us nowadays will most likely agree that servant leadership is one of the most effective to lead people in the 21st century.
When Lao Tzu first uttered this words about leadership he was probably thinking of all those gasconading leaders of that time or the times before him. Unfortunately these type of leaders still exist today. Looking around us we would definitely be able to mention some of today’s leaders who take pride in boasting around how good a leader they are and how they are creating impact with their work.
Although these leaders might be successful in business, it will not be difficult to find those who will tell you that they find it very hard to get inspired by these type of leadership.
Servant Leadership has many characteristics which inspire people nowadays to not only walk in the footsteps of leaders, but also to aspire to become such a leader so they can create positive impact themselves.
One of the characteristics of servant leadership that stands out is humbleness. Servant Leaders are very confident of their capabilities, capacities and their strength. As they are aware of the big positive impact they are creating on the lives of others, they know they need not to boast about this. They realize it’s not about jumping so other people notice you and give you credit, but about the impact they create. A true servant leader will never stand in the front line to let people know what great job he did. Or stand in front to show that he is the one giving credit to someone else. Servant leaders will do what they have to do and be satisfied with the positive results. Even if no one knows about their role in the process.
Leadership is not a destiny, but a mere journey. It is a journey in the process of self-development and finding inner wealth. Servant leaders know this. They also know that the real inner wealth doesn’t lie in being a leader but being able to develop other leaders, preferably better ones than they are themselves.
A servant leader invests time and energy in finding talent, encourage them, coach them and motivate them to get the best out of their selves. The best leaders in the history of mankind are those who were able to develop much better successors.
So how can you recognize a servant leader? If he’s very good it will probably not be very easy to recognize him, as he will not be the one that walks in front. Also not the one walking in the back either. The servant leader will be the one walking in the midst of everyone, listening to what they have to say, giving encouragement and advise and asking for their opinion and view on matters. This leader’s team will be so strong and successful, just because they feel that they matter and that success is the result of a ballgame played by each and every one of them.
Marciano Lie A Young is a trainer and consultant who has conducted training programs on Leadership, Work-life balance, Entrepreneurship and Public speaking in over 20 countries in 4 continents.
He is the director of the Leaders Management Group Foundation, an organization that offers training and consultancy services to Small and Medium businesses. You can follow him on twitter on @marcianolie or visit his blog www.marcianolieayoung.com.