To Lead People, Walk Behind Them
A servant leader leads by serving others. Servant leaders place the interests and needs of their followers ahead of their own self-interests and needs. They put others first. One of the qualities of a servant leader is that he thinks “you,” not “me” first. They value the development of their followers, act authentically and build their communities. In other words, servant leadership is living to serve and share. Nothing more, nothing less.
One of the best-known altruistic leaders who have walked on our planet and provided exceptional example of inspirational and servant leadership is Nelson ‘Madiba’ Mandela. He once said, “I stand here before you not as a prophet, but as a humble servant of you, the people.” Another leader who inspired and motivated others to make change not by words but through exemplary actions is George Washington. He was the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.
In the American Revolutionary War, during preparations for a battle, a man in civilian clothes passed a corporal who was arrogantly ordering his men to lift a heavy beam. The man stopped and asked the corporal, “Why don’t you help them?” “Sir,” the answer came back indignantly, “I am a corporal!” With a muttered apology, the stranger stripped off his coat and pitched in to help the soldiers.
“Mr. Corporal,” he said, when the task was done, “whenever you haven’t enough men to do a job, call on your Commander-in-Chief. I’ll be glad to help”. With that, George Washington put on his coat and left. The true leaders and heroes of the 21st century and beyond will be servant leaders who walk and work selflessly behind their followers to create change in our world.