Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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Why Do You Want to Be A Leader?


I mentored many individuals in my career who were aspiring to a leadership position in our organization. I would always ask them one question – “Why do you want to be a leader?” The answer to that question can tell you a lot.
I remember a friend who was asked that question by a senior leader. They hadn’t thought through their answer before being asked, and their answer was such that as a result, the leader would not support them for a leadership position moving forward. If you see leadership as a calling, you need to have your answer to the question “Why do you want to be a leader?” ready for whoever may ask you.
There are many reasons why people might want to secure a formal leadership position. (I say “formal” because I firmly believe that you can be a leader no matter what position you hold). Some pursue leadership for the title, position or status. Some pursue leadership for the salary or bonuses available. Some pursue leadership because they feel that they are entitled to it, based on length of service or prior individual contributions. I believe these are all poor reasons to pursue leadership.
I see leadership as a calling. I feel that leadership is one of the things that the Lord has gifted and prepared me for. My objectives in being a leader were to drive results for the organization and to develop people, both those on my teams and those I mentored. In other words, I aimed to make things better, both for the organization and for the people I was blessed to work with and mentor. I think that’s what servant leadership is all about.
Leadership experts John Maxwell and Ken Blanchard believe that the only way to create great relationships and results is through servant leadership. Maxwell states that servant leadership is all about putting other people first. Many leaders are not respected because they tend to put themselves first, not others. Blanchard has written that we have all seen the negative impact of self-serving leaders in every sector of our society. Maxwell offers a solution, indicating that the leader should be there for the people, not the people for the leader. Dave Ramsey states that if there’s one key to servant leadership, it’s pretty simple: put other people first. Cheryl Bachelder, the former CEO of Popeyes, writes that servant leadership simply means service above self.
Does this describe your current leader, or leaders that you have reported to in the past? Perhaps not. A better question may be “Does this describe the leader you want to be?” When someone asks you why you want to be a leader, why not indicate that you:

  1. Will make a difference.
  2. Drive strong results.
  3. Develop people.
  4. Put other people first.

How about you? If I were to ask you why you want to be a leader, how would you respond?


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5 Ways to be a Servant Leader During Times of Significant Change


Organizations are continually pursuing improvement, and that’s a good thing. We all want our organizations to remain relevant, and you can’t do that without changing. However, the result of this is that our workplaces are always going through transformation. Sometimes that change is significant and it impacts jobs, perhaps those of the leader and their team. Those times are when leaders really need to step up and not check out. Here are 5 ways servant leaders can add value during times of significant change:

  1. Communicate, communicate, communicate. I can’t over stress the importance of communicating what you know about the change to your team during a time of significant flux. Email communication is fine, but more important is face to face. Be visible, walk around and visit with your team.  Sit down and visit if you sense that a team member would like to talk. Even though you may be busy, make this your priority.
  2. Listen. Very much related to you communicating what you know about the change is you listening to what is on your team members’ hearts and minds. My leader regularly holds “What’s on Your Mind” sessions. The sole purpose for these sessions is to give members of her teams the opportunity to ask questions and share what is on their minds. During periods of significant change, make time each day to listen to your team members to hear their questions and concerns, their feedback and about the impact the changes are having on them.
  3. Show empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another – putting yourself in their shoes. Some leaders are good at this and frankly some aren’t. During times of significant change, it is imperative that servant leaders show empathy. The leader may or may not be personally impacted, but they must enter in with their team members during these times.
  4. Be intentional. The servant leader must be proactive, and do whatever they can to aid their team members during times of significant change. You may not be able to influence the change that is impacting your team, but you can do other things. For example, if jobs are being reduced or eliminated, a leader can:
  • Review internal and external job postings and share ones with team members that they may be qualified for.
  • Reach out to other managers who have openings on behalf of your team members.
  • Help prepare team members by reviewing their draft job postings, providing “mock interviews”, etc.
  1. Pray.  Most significantly, pray for your team members going through the change. Most likely each team member will see the change in a different way. For example, some may see the change as positive, and some may see it as absolutely devastating. And where they are in processing the change may differ from day to day. Lift your team members up to our Heavenly Father for protection and comfort during stressful times of significant change.

These are a few ways that servant leaders can add value to their teams during times of significant change. What others would you add to this list?


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4 Reasons Why I Aspire to be a Servant Leader

Ken Blanchard on servant leadershipAre you a self-serving leader, or a servant leader? Ken Blanchard has written that effective leaders should serve their people, not be served by them, which is different than the norm. Similarly, John Maxwell states that the leader should be there for their people, not the people there for the leader. This is what is referred to as servant leadership.

I speak about servant leadership in the expectations/philosophies document that I provide to all of my new team members:

I believe in the concept of servant leadership, which encourages leaders to serve others while staying focused on achieving results in line with the organization’s values. An excellent book that explains this leadership philosophy is The Mentor Leader by Tony Dungy.

There are many reasons why this form of leadership resonates with me. Here are just three of them:

  1. It aligns well with my faith ~ Jesus is my model here. The first section of Mark 10:45 states, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve”. It is my aim to serve my team members well. Now some will say that the terms “servant” and “leader” conflict with each other, and cannot be used together. But I have found them to be perfectly in alignment, and I find joy in leading this way. Does the concept of a servant leader make sense to you? Can you get your ego out of the way and instead build up others?
  2. It is a successful leadership model. Blanchard states that the servant leader provides the vision and values for their team. Once the direction is clear, the servant leader’s role is to help their team members to achieve their goals. They teach and coach their team members so that they can do their best, achieve their goals and reach their highest potential. Servant leaders listen to their team members, praise them, support them and redirect them when they deviate from the path. That is a model that I can support and get behind and it’s how I try to lead. Do you see how this can be a successful model?
  3. It helps team members be successful. Blanchard states that the servant leader is constantly trying to find out what their people need to be successful. They are interested in making a difference in their people’s lives, and in the process, positively impacting their organization by delivering good results. The role of the servant leader is to help their people win and accomplish their goals. If you are a leader, what are you doing to help your team members win and accomplish their goals?
  4. It’s the way I would like to be led. Think of the “Golden Rule”. The first section of Matthew 7:12 states “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them”. If I apply that to how I would like to be led, it would be to be led by a servant leader. That type of leader that is always there to help you win and accomplish your goals. You can relax, do your best and know that you have a leader who has your best interests in mind.  Have you worked with any servant leaders in the past? How did that make a difference for you?

These are just a few of the reasons that I aspire to be a servant leader. There are many more. Can you think of more to add to this list? Have I made the case that this is the best way to lead? Why or why not?