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2 Reasons to Train Servant Leaders

“Leadership means understanding that people are more important than things.” – J. Donald Walters

Why Do You Want to Lead?

I like to ask young emerging leaders “why do you want to lead?” What I’m looking for in potential leaders is a desire to serve others, a sense of purpose, with a vision and passion to build something greater than themselves, that will live on after they’re gone. You must be willing to serve others to accomplish this.

Their overarching reason for leading must transcend wealth, power and fame. I’ve heard it said that “leadership is a calling not a career,” I believe that to be true. Adding value to people is what leadership is all about, leaders are stewards who serve others for the greater good.

I’ve watched gifted potential leaders struggle with choosing between pursuing places for people or pursing places of power. It takes humility and character development to become a great leader who serves to empower others.

Great leaders aren’t born great, they are trained. The depth of their leadership gifts and skills emerge during training and their interactions with others.

There’s a story of a man who, site seeing on vacation is standing in a town taking in a breath-taking view of the mountain range, he asks a resident of that town who he has just met “are there any great leaders born in this beautiful town?” To which the resident replies. “no sir, just babies.”

Reason #1: Servant Leaders Have Longevity

“Servant Leaders Succeed Because They Were Once Leading Severs” -JSP

I believe true Leadership is by function largely ancillary. Commenting on leadership, Lao Tsu says, “To lead the people you must walk behind them,” effective leadership is servant leadership.

Stephen R. Covey writes: “I recently attended a football game that demonstrated a magnificent contrast between the servant leadership and benevolent authoritarian styles of management.

Both teams had great coaches. But as I watched the game, I could see one coach pacing up and down the sideline, making every decision on both offense and defense. In stark contrast, the other coach only got involved in the pivotal decisions, because he had set up a system of empowerment with his assistant coaches. Historically, the servant leader tends to have a longer tenure. In many organizations, leaders, like coaches, come and go.” (1)

Reason #2: Servant Leaders are in The Business of Building People

“Your relationships can only be as healthy as you are.” – Neil Clark Warren

The Downside of Leaders Who Don’t Serve Others:

1st – Leaders who fail to impart purpose build teams that lack focus 2nd – Leaders who fail to ignite passion build teams that lack energy 3rd – Leaders who aren’t empowering build teams that lack confidence 4th – Leaders who won’t develop leaders build teams that lack influence 5th – Leaders who aren’t serving build teams focused on surviving

To get started thinking like a servant leader I included three qualities of a good servant leader, these are taken from “The 21 Indispensable Qualities of A Leader” by John C. Maxwell (2)

Quality #1: Generosity “Your Candle Loses Nothing When It Lights Another” Generous leaders understand that giving makes them richer instead of poorer. To them, giving eventually brings blessings in return—whether or not those blessings are measurable. Openhanded people take delight in putting others first and helping them succeed. They see possessions as resources to share rather than as property to own. . Questions:

  1. Ask yourself if gratefulness fuels generosity?

  2. What are five things in your life for which you are thankful?

Quality #2: Listening “To Connect with Their Hearts, Use Your Ears” Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand. But before they can touch a heart, they have to know what’s in it. Good leaders listen to their people in order to get a feel for each person’s unique dreams, desires, and talents.

Question: In one-on-one conversations, how does the percentage of time you spend talking compare to the percentage of time you spend listening? Communication is one of the most important aspects of living a successful and fulfilled life.  If your available on January 12, 2019, I would love for you to join us at our full day communication boot camp. You can learn more here

Quality #3: Relationships “If You Get Along, They’ll Go Along” Relationship skills make or break a leader. If others like you, they’ll follow you almost anywhere. People respect a leader who keeps their best interests in mind. By focusing on what you can put into people instead of what you can get out of them, you’ll gain loyalty and devotion from others.


  1. Is your natural inclination to focus on getting tasks done or on connecting with people?

  2. If you’re task-oriented, how have you learned to prioritize relationships?

  3. If you’re people focused, how have you learned the art of getting things done?

(1) Examples of Servant Leaders by Stephen R. Covey (2) The 21 Indispensable Qualities of A Leader (Lunch-N-Learn) by John C. Maxwell

*** This article was authored by John Picarello, Chief Leadership Officer at Lions Pride Leadership Co.***

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