Humility does not come naturally to anyone.
Who hasn’t seen an example of our self-centered nature in a two-year old child in the checkout line at the grocery story, lying flat out on the floor, screaming at the top of her lungs, fists clenched because Mom wouldn’t buy her a candy bar? When the child did not get what she wanted, a temper tantrum followed.
The reality is that adults have an inner two-year-old. We know what we want, when we want it, and we are dejected, annoyed, and maybe even angry when we don’t get our way. While it’s not appropriate to lie on the floor and scream anymore, often – in our minds – we are tempted.
Our model for humble leadership lives in the servant-mindedness of Jesus Christ during His ministry on earth. We’re not likely to achieve that kind of perfect and consistent humility in this lifetime. But great leaders aspire to grow in Christ-like humility with each passing day.
If you are interested in developing as a leader, model the humble servanthood of Jesus and make a conscious decision to serve others.
THE QUICK SUMMARY – Dare to Serve, by Cheryl Bachelder
Cheryl Bachelder joined an ailing restaurant chain and turned it into the darling of the industry—by daring to serve the people in her organization well.
When Bachelder was named CEO of Popeyes in the fall of 2007, guest visits had been declining for years, restaurant sales and profit trends were negative, the company stock price had dropped by half, the brand was stagnant, and relations between the company and its franchise owners were strained.
By 2014, average restaurant sales were up 25 percent, and profits were up 40 percent. Popeyes’ market share had grown from 14 percent to 21 percent, and the stock price was over $40. The franchisees were so pleased with the turnaround that they began reinvesting in the brand, rapidly remodeling restaurants and building new units around the world.
The difference maker, Bachelder says, was a conscious decision to lead in a new way – with servant leadership. Servant leadership is sometimes derided as soft or ineffective, but Dare to Serve shows that it’s actually challenging and tough minded – a daring path. Bachelder takes you firsthand through the transformation of Popeyes and shows how a leader at any level can become a Dare-to-Serve leader.
A SIMPLE SOLUTION
A typical view of leadership puts the leader in the spotlight. Conventional leaders assume the power position and declare a new vision. They have all the answers. They’re high achievers. Perhaps they’re even a bit self-absorbed. We tolerate that because they’re going places we want to go. If they succeed, so will we.
At least, we hope so.
Servant leaders avoid the spotlight – instead, they prefer to direct the spotlight on others. Servant leaders:
- Listen carefully
- Make decisions that serve the people they lead well.
- Give credit
We like the concept of servant leaders, but in reality we fear they won’t succeed. We doubt they’ll deliver superior performance results.
A leader wanting to demonstrate servant leadership is a leader who is courageous enough to take people to a daring destination, yet humble enough to selflessly serve others on the journey. This dynamic tension between daring and serving creates the conditions for the people to deliver superior performance.
Humility is not being a doormat, it is simply thinking less about our own needs, and more about the needs of others. When we do this, we exit the spotlight, allowing us to serve others well.
Dare-to-Serve Leadership is much more difficult, and in that challenge, the leader creates the conditions for superior performance:
- It begins with a conscious and humble decision to serve others well.
- It inspires people to pursue a daring destination, an aspiration greater than self.
- It boosts the capability of the people and increases their willingness to take risks.
- It holds people accountable.
- It is appropriately confident.
- It works.
Dare-to-Serve Leadership requires deep-rooted personal conviction; it’s a demanding path.
The Dare-to-Serve Leader has that unique combination of traits – enough courage to take the team to a daring destination, and enough humility to serve the people well on the journey. Together these traits foster the environment for superior performance.
– Cheryl Bachelder, Dare to Serve
A NEXT STEP
On a sheet of paper, draw a line down the middle making two columns. In the left column, list the first five descriptors of Dare-to-Serve Leadership from the list above.
In the left column, list your recent activities that have demonstrated the Dare-to-Serve descriptors listed.
On another sheet of paper, identify three obstacles you face in becoming a servant leader. Review the list and write at least one action to help overcome each obstacle.
Excellent leaders set the example by aligning their actions with their values as a servant leader, just as Christ did.
James Kouzes and Barry Posner, writing in Great Leadership Creates Great Workplaces, suggest leaders ask themselves these three questions at the end of each day:
“What have I done today that demonstrates the values that I hold near and dear?”
“What have I done today that might have, even inadvertently, been inconsistent with what I value and believe in?”
This reflection will prepare you to ask a final question: “So tomorrow, what do I need to do differently so that my actions match my words?”
Servant leaders who make this a regular habit will not only be practicing their craft, they will be developing themselves and others as servant leaders – ultimately reflecting the heart of Christ who did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.
Taken from SUMS Remix 19-3, published July 2015.
Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader
Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.
You can find out more information about SUMS Remix here.