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Servant Leaders

Jun 01, 2019 | Source : Speakingtree

Democracies are progressive systems of government because the opportunity to become a leader is available to everyone. Furthermore, it is the people who elect their leaders. If people cast their vote wisely, they get good governance. But if the power of the ballot is misused or neglected, then incompetent and selfish individuals rise to leadership positions. Hence, a healthy democracy requires its people to be discerning in their selection of leaders.

What are the salient characteristics of a good servant-leader? What would be the mindset of a servant leader?

1.  Of all the essential traits, the single most important leadership characteristic is to serve. To be an effective social, political, economic and spiritual leader, one must be a good servant first. One doesn’t lose leadership qualities when one serves; on the contrary, one naturally becomes a leader. It’s because humanity is always inspired by the ideals and the empathy that they see in the lives of servant-leaders, and wish to follow them.

A servant-leader, who makes service a top priority, automatically embodies all the required qualities that we look for in a leader.

In other words, service attitude is the thread that runs through all the effective and virtuous leadership qualities.
Great leaders such as M K Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela and others like them, always endeavoured to serve others, which resulted in their leading humanity successfully towards life, liberty, and happiness. No wonder they inspired and touched people’s hearts across the globe with their service and sacrifice.

2.  A servant leader would help others in their evolutionary journey: Having come into this world, improve we must, as entire creation is geared towards it. A servant-leader being aware that work is not merely a matter of achieving results, but also growing up, facilitates others’ development and encourages their growth. Since they are not selfseeking, they work for the welfare and interest of others. They always strive to orchestrate opportunities for others, empowering them to learn, grow, and evolve.

3.  A servant leader accepts everything with equanimity: Composure or evenness of temper, especially during difficult situations, is indispensable to a leader. Since servant leaders work without any desire for rewards, like a true karma yogi, they give up concern for the results; instead, they focus solely on serving well. They remain steadfast, performing their service, as they are aware that the effort alone is in their hands, not the results. Therefore, they accept everything that comes their way, without sacrificing their best efforts. This perspective naturally enables them to lead others in all circumstances, with serenity and equanimity.

 4. A servant leader leads through example: We learn best when we observe the behaviours of others and are driven to act accordingly. A servant leader, be it of a team, company, or nation, sets a good example, inspiring others with impeccable thoughts, words, and deeds. In short, while serving selflessly, one becomes the torchbearer, inspiring others toward noble goals.

5.  A servant-leader empathises with others: Since humans rely on one another to live and thrive, servant leaders are cognisant of others’ viewpoints and emotions. They acknowledge others’ standpoint, value others’ skills, and come up with a solution to promote harmony, which leads to the accomplishment of their broader vision in the long run.

6. A servant leader humbly shepherds one and all: Due to their selfless focus on the well-being of others, servant-leaders are naturally humble. Regardless of their position, they quietly look for opportunities to strengthen the weak, and guide them lovingly and gently. Thus, they positively influence the dispositions of those they serve. This is the secret to their leadership abilities. They grow into leadership without trying to be leaders, focussing on their immanent desire to serve.

Selfless Service

Leadership is none other than the manifestation of selfless service. Every one of us can embrace such service and selflessness. We are surrounded by opportunities to serve. In fact, our real constitutional position is of an eternal servant of God. When we realise that we — the souls — are tiny fragments of God’s energy, we naturally serve His creation to honour Him. While doing so, with love and devotion, we enrich our life and evolve.

Servant leaders, who dedicate their lives to the service of humankind, do not find themselves in that noble position by chance.

For years, they cultivate compassionate thoughts in their mind, and the energy of those accumulated thoughts result in their performing heroic deeds of service. It is this inner refinement that naturally draws others into their fold. When such servant leaders are in the forefront, India will be naturally strengthened and uplifted in morality, selflessness, and spirituality. If our elected leaders set about sowing their seeds of service with vigour and determination, they are bound to harvest lasting peace and prosperity

- A great leader is a servant first, writes mind management guru, SWAMI MUKUNDANANDA, founder of JK Yog and alumnus of IIT-IIM

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