Servant Leadership – Importance of Vision and Core Values (2 of 6)
January 27, 2012 § Leave a comment
Importance of Vision and Core Values
There are two parts of leadership that Jesus clearly exemplified: a visionary role which involves doing the right thing and an implementation role, involving doing things right (Blanchard and Hodges 2003, 44).
Servant leadership begins with a clear and compelling vision of the future that excites passion in the leader and commitment in those who follow (Blanchard and Hodges 2003, 45). The vision then is pivotal to starting off on the right foot. Once the leader has a vision, he must seek to share that vision with those around him and especially with his followers. He serves them well by communicating his passion to them verbally, visually, and experientially, etc. Followers who can see that their leader knows where they are going as a team and can even taste of this vision for themselves are much more likely to be involved and engaged in every step of a given process or program. Followers will often lead like those whom they follow if their example is a positive one; regrettably those with a poor leadership example will also often lead as they have been led. Servant leadership is something people will wish to emulate as it benefits all parties involved, creating a space for ministry to take place in any and every context. Clarity of vision and understanding of mission and core passions on the part of all involved parties is critical to success as a leader or team member. As noted by Blanchard and Hodges, “When Jesus washed the feet of the disciples, He was transitioning His focus from the visionary/direction part of leadership to the implementation role. As He did that, He was not implying that they should go out and help people do anything they wanted. The vision was clear. He got it from the top of the hierarchy—His Father. As “fishers of men” they were to “go make disciples of all nations…” focusing on first loving God and then their neighbors. When it came to implementing this vision, He wanted them to be servant leaders and help people pass “the final exam” (Blanchard and Hodges 2003, 53).1
As noted above, clearly defined core values are imperative to effective servant leadership. Jesus clearly states core values not only for himself, but for his followers in Matthew 22:37-40:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your entire mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.
All of our words and actions as followers of Christ must spring from these core values of first loving God and then loving our neighbor. This is not just a tolerance, but Jesus’ command is to “Love your neighbor as yourself” and to love your God with your entirety—heart, mind and soul. This is the starting point for us as servants of Christ and as servant leaders: love must be the rule of our lives.
Blanchard and Hodges assert: “True success in servant leadership depends on how clearly values are defined, ordered, and lived by the leader. Jesus lived His values of love of God and love of His neighbor all the way to the cross” (Blanchard and Hodges 2003, 51). No greater love has any man than to lay down His life for His friends. (John 15:13).
1 By “the final exam”, Blanchard and Hodges mean a time when we will stand before God and answer two questions: What did you do with Jesus? And What did you do with the resources you were given in life? The clear mandate of Christ to his followers is to prepare people—disciples—who will pass this “final exam” with a grade of “A” (52-53).