I’ve been interested in leadership – theory and practice – and in various styles of leadership for many years. Recently, I’ve been exploring the structure of Servant Leadership and have found that most of what I teach my students falls directly into this framework. Not only do I take a Servant Leadership approach, I teach them to be Servant Leaders. I don’t discuss it in those terms, but I train them in listening, compassion, kindness, supporting others, empathy, foresight, and care for the world. I’m training them, hoping to seed the world with these budding humans.
It’s amusing, the internal conflicts that arise from considering myself a Servant Leader, amusing and sometimes aggravating. As an ambitious, intelligent, and talented professional, I want credit for my work – I want to be acknowledged for my accomplishments, my dedication, and my passion. But Servant Leadership is about leading from behind and beside, commitment to the growth of others, and not so much about being the star.
So where does this leave me? Struggling between wanting acknowledgement and internalizing an approach that focuses on strengthening and developing others, it seems. But even as my internal conflict sputters along, I know that I have chosen the right path, and that my desire for personal glory is fleeting compared to building resilient, compassionate human beings. If asked how I manage my craving for personal acknowledgment with continuing to work as a servant leader, I don’t know what I would say.
Even writing a blog post about it feels uncomfortable – calling attention to myself in an un-servant-like way. But it is true – I consider myself in this way and most of my decisions about what to do and how to do it come from this paradigm. Writing this post feels awkward and uncomfortable, as it should. I’m acknowledging my sticky, prickly human nature, and bringing her out from behind the curtain.