The essence of true leadership

August 31, 2017
OBADIAH 1:4 - “Though you build high like the eagle, though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,” declares the Lord.

The finest illustration of leadership that I know does not come from the pages of the Harvard Business Review, but from the pages of the Bible. Jesus Christ was the ultimate servant-leader. “The Son of Man,” He said, “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” The servant-leader is quite willing to live in obscurity, but he seldom does. A leader “wanna-be” is likely to fall in love with his own image, and to believe in his own good press.                 

I am reminded of the humorous story of a visit by the President of the United States to a nursing home. The President entered the facility with his entourage and was received with delight by the elderly residents. As he went from person to person in the living area, he noticed a woman in a wheelchair who seemed rather disinterested in all that was going on. Years of campaigning had taught him how to work a room, and he did not want to offend someone who might be around for the next election. He approached her, smiled, patted her shoulder and gently squeezed her frail hand. She smiled back, but said nothing. “Do you know who I am?” the President finally asked. “No,” she replied, “but if you’ll ask the lady at the nurses’ station over there, she’ll tell you.” So much for self-importance! Humility is that trait which, when you’re sure you’ve got it, you can be sure that you don’t. The true essence of great leadership is servanthood.