There are many kinds of leaders and ways to use power. Jesus showed us using great power for others in contrast to the religious and secular leaders focused in his time on using power over others. Some leaders lead in pursuit of their own well-being and some leaders lead for the sake of a higher purpose. My first motivational book for business leaders that inspired me was Higher Ground by Lance Secretan. I believe it is probably one of the books I gave away a few years ago. The Seven Pillars of Servant Leadership by James Sipe and Don Frick is a motivational book for business people and other leaders that I still hold and will probably keep for a while yet. Here is my super-condensed overview of the book.
The first pillar is Character, and I begin with a point made towards the middle of the chapter: having a moral compass focused on True North grounds character on solid rock. The first quote is by Steven Covey: “All leadership development is character development.” The authors identify servant leaders as making insightful, ethical, and principle-centered decisions. The qualities of a person of strong, positive character include honest, trustworthy, authentic, humble; led by conscience, not ego; filled with depth of spirit and enthusiasm; and committed to the desire to serve something beyond self.
The competencies of a person with character include maintaining integrity; demonstrating humanity; and serving a higher purpose.
Finally, no one is perfect — what matters is what predominates. We are capable of improving our characters, if we wish to do so.
The second pillar is putting people first. Servant leaders find their greatest success in how well they mentor others into becoming servant leaders in addition to the success they achieve in just helping people do better in work or life, in part by providing opportunities for them to grow and learn, to develop their strengths and learn from experience. As a social activist, a great source of pain came from people sharing the same causes as me, but putting the cause ahead of the well-being of people. As an environmentalist, I am particularly troubled by eco-activists who seem more interested in scoring some kind of points than developing connections with others that can lead to collaborative action for the good of all. As a peace activist, I felt undermined by peace activists who committed acts of violence or vandalism. Jesus put the well-being of his disciples and people with illnesses ahead of community rules about the Sabbath and touching the unclean. To Jesus, no one was unclean. Religiously committed people seem to not have noticed this when they attack people over gender, sexual, and other issues such as abortion.
Being able to put people first includes accepting our personal flaws and being humble enough to accept that we do not know what is best for others, and to care enough that others might have good lives. The capacity to be empathetic depends on developing relationships with a variety of other people and to lose our fear of our own imperfections — to become more love-based and less fear-based in our feelings and attitudes.
The third pillar is skilled at communications; this is one of my weaker pillars and I can try to blame it, maybe, on being a little bit on the Aspergers Spectrum. Underlying attitudes that help include valuing our ability to share our thoughts and ideas in ways that can help others understand what we are trying to share; courage to be open to constructive feedback; humility to accept opportunities to be mentored in communication; and patience to do the work required every day to communicate well. the 32 pages in this chapter cover many aspects of communication from our communication to others to providing feedback that helps others perform better to mentoring others for improved skills in communication It is a chapter I need to reread periodically so I may improve my communication.
The fourth pillar is Compassionate Collaboration. All three previous pillars are needed for this pillar. Compassionate Collaboration depends on caring about others and being able to put achieving appropriate goals ahead of gaining personal recognition. Compassionate collaboration effectively supports an organization creating a process which provides maximally successful outcomes in reaching goals. Many or most successful corporations and churches are fueled by compassionate collaboration. The collaboration usually starts with clarifying the goal for the collaboration, and this process generally provides surprises to most participants at first. For example, a goal for a church council might start as growing the church. The collaborative process could include identifying why that goal — are there other ways of obtaining the purpose for the goal of growth?– as well as who is wanted as additions to the congregation, clarifying what growth means (number of people in worship, number of supporters, number of people engaged in mission, the quality and quantity of mission, discipleship development for starters), and many more steps in clarifying the goal. The clarification of the goal, which must be done collaboratively to have everyone buy into it, will point to the kinds of things that will need to be done. It takes patience, assertiveness, and humility for compassionate collaboration to be sustainable, but the results are worth it. It also takes practice and effective mentoring.
I will do Pillars 5 through 7 in another post. You’ll find my reflections HERE