Time to Read: 5 minutes
Leadership has always been an interest to me ever since I got my first glimpse in little league baseball knowing my teammates could count on me and I could count on them. Ever since then I’ve always asked myself questions like, “What makes a person want to lead others?”, “What makes a person want to follow?”, or “How can I lead others even though I’m not in charge?” and contemplate these daily on my dark-thirty ride to the gym or on that exhausted ride home from work. One morning riding back home from an early morning training session, thoughts flowed in my mind and I spoke to myself like I was speaking in front of a crowd on what made a leader – SERVICE. It was one word that came to mind that sparked the rest of my 30 minute talk to myself in what used to be a lonely car ride. It felt like something that at first glance seemed mistaken but digging into the depth of my character knew it to be true. I had always tried to fathom why people saw me as a leader even though I never saw myself as one or initially wanted to be – I then realized, I lived a life in service for others as my parents had taught me to do because they did it every day.
Service, it was such a simple word but yet the essence of it has escaped so many. Thinking back to my childhood, I realized all those volunteering events, church events, and other service events I was dragged to, served a purpose that would serve me in my latter years, now. Service for others and in others creates a bond, a bond with the person to the left of you and to the right of you. The person with you in the metaphorical trenches, for us business folk, and in the literal trenches for those that serve in our armed forces. It is such a humanistic element and is what makes us human wanting to look out for one another, protect each other, and help one another. People try to fathom why those that truly serve our nation, in any branch, have such a strong bond calling each other brother and sister – they serve not only our nation, but truly serve each other because they put the safety and interest of their brothers and sisters before themselves, willingly. That is what a leader does – they serve their followers by putting their followers’ safety and interest before themselves at all costs. And you know what servitude to others creates so organically and naturally? – TRUST.
If you want to lead, you must serve first. Serving creates trust, and trust creates the bond. The bond creates an inspired team willingly ready to follow their leader. Eagerly ready to carry out the leader’s vision and make it happen at all costs because they trust their leader and know that the leader has the follower’s back no matter what and the follower will do the same. That trust is something hard to create but once it is created, it is truly something special. Great things can happen and teams will accomplish many things if trust is created but not without the leader taking a grand leap of faith first and authentically wanting to serve others and protect their safety and interests.
But you may feel you aren’t in a position to lead because you aren’t in charge and that is fine. I feel like that most days because I’m not the ultimate decision maker at my work. But one thing I do day in and day out is serve; serve to the best of my ability every damn day. Serve those that are my leaders and superiors, serve those that are my colleagues, and serve those that need help. I make it a point in my day to help others and serve outside of my capacities at work because that is what it takes to be a leader; moreover, be recognized as a leader. And that service gets recognized, it requires a lot, A LOT of patience, but it’s paid in due time. That is also the last key to being a leader is patience. Leaders can’t be born overnight for doing one act of service. It takes a compounding multitude of service to earn trust and have it be recognized. But patience is the game; the longer we serve others, the deeper trust we can create, the more experience we can have, and the longer we can understand the interest, safety, and culture of those we serve have.