The often rehearsed concept and statement that we hear today, not just in Christian circles, but also in corporate sectors, is the term servant leadership. This has gained acceptance as contrast and as opposed to professional leadership.
A professional leader is there to extract work and treat his team or those who work under him as not deserving attention beyond what their work entitles. This means that his focus is on what they do and the results they produce. To him, they are just people who have been appointed to do a job and his work is to extract the desired outcome from them. His relationship is limited to the work sphere and his care of or over them is always in relation to that circle. To him or, they are slightly better than slaves, but hstill there to provide the service.
In contrast, servant leadership is ‘a leadership philosophy in which the main goal of the leader is to serve. This is different from traditional leadership where the leader’s main focus is the thriving of their company or organizations.’ Here the leader goes beyond the work sphere and comes into an understanding that his people are his to care for. He or she does not consider them as being there to serve him, but that he is there to serve them. The servant-leader steps into the personal space of his subordinate, not invading it, but seeking to build a relationship. Due to this, he or she is able to empathize not just criticise, working to produce results, not by a rod, but motivation and seeks to gain their trust.
For the professional leader, his management is a position and a vocation. To the servant leader, his administration is not a post, a vocation or even a style. It is a calling, stewardship and an influence!
There is a third higher and more noble leadership strain or trait that exists, especially in the Bible – that of parent leadership.
The mark of a true parent is to desire the best for their child and they are most happy when the child grows beyond them. A parent is most happy when they see their child superseding them in achievement and overtaking their position. So also, a parent leader is one who is thrilled when his team member or subordinate or disciple outgrows him or her, to take on higher position and post. He or she is thrilled to have groomed them to that level and used the time given them to lay avoid foundation.
A parent thinks nothing of laying down his or her life for the sake of their child and will never crib one bit of sacrifice they make for their child. A parent is the one person in the whole wide world who never minds the cost involved and the price they pay for their child to rise to heights they weren’t or haven’t reached. So also, a parent leader welcomes the role he or she has played in the life of a trainee or apprentice that enables them to go beyond their level. In fact, they consider them the crown of their achievement.
A real parent is intuitively aware of their child’s strengths and weaknesses to at and then work on and with them in a way that fits that unique makeup. A parent then sets goals and milestones that challenge yet motivate their child, boosting their child in the right places and prodding them beyond their pain barrier until they inherit their destiny. A parent leader, likewise, is so able to assess their team members personality quirks and traits that they know what task to entrust to whom. They also know whom to push and prod, and whom to cajole and encourage in the process of getting the desired output.
A parent may feel and deal with their child in anger or with sorrow, but never will they give up on them. They will always accept and have a soft corner for their child irrespective of how many times they fail. Till the end, they will never give up on their child but always expect he or she will one day turn around. A parent leader, likewise, is ready to give their subordinate a second chance and in case they fail, they do not mind handing over their protégé to other leaders for his or her betterment.
A parent may expect returns or remuneration from their child, not as a right or as a payment for their work in reading them, but more as a token and an acknowledgement of their input in their child’s life. Their child’s growth and progress are all the thanks they need to know that they have been honoured. A parent leader does not feel neglected or sidelined when he is acknowledged for the role he played in his disciple’s achievement but will rest on the fact that his laurels are from the one who sees all and rewards openly.
Finally, a parent is never jealous of or in competition with his or her child, for he knows who he is and what role he has played, even when his child does not accept it. So also, a parent leader is never insecure that he has to fight to gain or hold his own. He rests in the satisfaction of a job well done and trust well completed.
Can there be such parent leaders and will we find them in this world?
Certainly and for sure, because there have been such people of old!
To be a parent leader needs guts, humility and compassion.
Which type of leader are you? What type of leader do you desire to be?