Servant Leadership – Importance of Vision and Core Values (3 of 6)
January 28, 2012 § Leave a comment
In discussing the vision and the core values, it is important to note a conclusion that may be obvious: a servant leader—through clear explication of core values, mission and vision makes his expectations and intentions known up front. After doing so, he will equip his team of followers with what they need to succeed in reaching their unified mission. He will serve them by helping them understand as fully as possible the goals that lay ahead and, together, they will work to accomplish success in these areas. In addition, he will better serve them by taking questions, constructive criticisms and the like in order to assure understanding on the part of the followers. This will necessarily require humility from the leader, as pride puffs up and does not allow questioning or criticism.
As touched on above, while it is fine and even healthy to look to the main leader for the visionary aspect of leadership, it is not healthy to expect total implementation from this one person at the top of the hierarchical ladder. A model of servant leadership will not take such a hierarchical approach. Why? Such an approach is fostered by general ignorance on the part of the following body. The true servant leader’s team will be part of the game, not mere spectators. Such a leader will seek to educate, inform and clearly communicate core values, mission and vision to his followers so that they take ownership in their mission and vision as a cooperating community or corporation. They will have more than minimal interest vested in their mission; they will own it for themselves, seeking to serve those parallel to them, under and above them, and those outside of their team—perhaps their customers or audience in the business sense. In short, implementation of the vision must occur at all levels of an association, community or corporation for the servant leadership model to be authentic and successful. Blanchard and Hodges have the following remarks on this subject:
Effective implementation requires turning the hierarchy upside down so the customer contact people are at the top of the organization and are able to respond to customers, while leaders serve the needs of employees, helping them to accomplish the vision and direction of the organization. That’s what Jesus had in mind when He washed the feet of the disciples (Blanchard and Hodges 2003, 54).
As noted above, servant leadership has its beginning in a clear vision. Its end then is in a servant heart that aids people in living and acting according to that vision. Christ is our prototype here: he walked alongside his disciples, helping them to understand and live out the vision he cast before them. Jesus’ heart was in the right place. He was leading not out of self-interest, but out of an attitude of service. The apostle Paul instructs the believers in Philippi in this area of the heart:
“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:1-4).
Our motivation must not be self-serving. Self-interest looks at the situations in one’s life as propositional; such a person always wonders what is in it for them and how they will gain the most benefit. Now, we will look closer at this paradox of self-serving versus servant leadership.