The Power of Servant Leadership

Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile. – Albert Einstein


A story is told that during the American Revolution a man in civilian clothes rode past a group of soldiers repairing a small defensive barrier. Their leader was shouting instructions, but making no attempt to help them.

Asked by the rider, he responded with great dignity, “Sir, I am a corporal!” The stranger apologized, dismounted, and proceeded to help the exhausted soldiers. The job done, he turned to the corporal and said, “Mr. Corporal, next time you have a job like this and not enough men to do it, go to your commander-in-chief and I will come and help you again.” The man was none other than George Washington.

“Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitudes and actions” said Harold S. Geneen. And this is the essence of servant leadership. When talk becomes action; when ones purpose as a leader transcends position, and serving others is the norm rather than the exception, that is when leadership is truly understood.

Former President George H. W. Bush was asked in a Time magazine interview as to whether he has seen a shift in the past twenty years in the public’s attitude toward service.  “I think so, I hope so,” he replied. “Many schools include a service project as part of their curriculum, and many corporations have in-house projects for their employees or give them time off to do volunteer work. There’s a greater understanding about the importance of giving back.” This is encouraging when you consider how great the need is today for servant leadership.

Servant leadership can transform your life and your business. Here are three simple insights to bring it into focus.

Service is the model of leadership.

The simplest definition of leadership comes from John Maxwell who defines it in one word– influence. A servant leader is one understands that his influence individually can make a difference, but collectively can make a huge impact.

When you rally your people, time, and resources around causes greater than self, you are modeling the greatest use of leadership. “Strong convictions precede great actions,” said James Freeman Clarke. He’s right. What great causes are you and your organization rallying around?

Service is the blessing of leadership.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven,” said Jesus (Matthew 5;16). The best way to “find yourself” is by serving others. It’s as you give of your time, talent, and treasure that you begin to see the world around you in a different light. Servant leadership has nothing to do with weakness or being a doormat, but has everything to do with using your gifts and talents in a positive way.

When was the last time you praised a co-worker for a job well done? Who is the colleague going through a difficult time that could use your encouragement? How about giving a gift card to your hard working admin to express your appreciation?  When the idea of being a blessing becomes your corporate culture you will move your business into a whole new realm of purpose.

Service is the reward of leadership.

Do you want to position your team for greatness? As you set the example of servant leadership within your organization, the buy-in among your team will have significant meaning. Simply put, there are some rewards that will come your way that have nothing to do with your bottom line.  But the change in your company culture will be priceless.

“Whoever renders service to many puts himself in line for greatness – great wealth, great return, great satisfaction, great reputation, and great joy,” said Jim Rohn.  Are you ready to open doors of greatness? As you become a catalyst for servant leadership it will open up new realities for you that you never knew existed.

Who will you serve today?


© 2013 Doug Dickerson


If you enjoy reading Doug’s leadership insights you will especially enjoy reading his books, Leaders Without Borders & Great Leaders Wanted!  Go to to order your copies today.