Servant leadership begins with the motivation and intent of the heart. Motivation and intent drive a leader’s belief system and role perspective. A common point of interest among all great leaders is that they have a specific leadership point of view that defines how they see themselves in their roles as leaders and how they influence and teach those with whom they’ve developed relationships. Servant leaders view themselves as having two roles. The first is that of a visionary. The second is that of an implementer.
By now, we should understand that leadership is a process of influence, but what is it that we are influencing? Leadership is a process of influence that leads to some destination. The destination is the picture painted by the leader’s vision. Proverbs 29:18 (KJV) says in part, “Where there is no vision, the people perish:”
According to Ken Blanchard and Jesse Stoner in their book, “Full Steam Ahead: The Power of Vision,” a compelling vision has three parts:
- Your purpose. What “business” are you in? Where are you going and why? In terms of your family, what is your family all about? Where is your family going and why?
- Your picture of the future. What will your future look like if you are accomplishing your purpose?
- Your values. What do you stand for? On what principles will you make on-going decisions?
By creating a compelling vision, the leader tells those within their sphere of influence who they are, where they are going and what guides their journey. Once the followers clearly understand the leader’s vision, the leader takes on the role of implementer, in effect becoming a servant to the vision. The servant leader equips and motivates those they lead to succeed in accomplishing the goals of the vision. A self-serving leader believes the sheep are there to serve the shepherd, which is quite the opposite of servant leadership. This is where many organizations get into trouble with their leadership.
Leaders are either going to energize their followers or sap their strength. With self-serving leadership, the energy of the followers flows upward to satisfy the demands of the leader. When the energy flows upward, it is drawn away from the customers. With less energy to serve the customers’ demands, a business struggles. Servant leaders get the energy flowing in the right direction. By energizing their people, the energy flows outward to the customers which leads to greater results and success.