Service = Leadership.
Many of the great, iconic leaders in history agree that leadership starts and ends with service. It’s not about a title or salary; that’s position. It’s not about managing resources; that’s management. And it’s not about getting people to do what you want; that’s persuasion.
These are certainly components of leadership, but they aren’t leadership itself.
- “Leadership is all about making the goals clear and then rolling your sleeves up and doing whatever it takes to help people win. In that situation, they don’t work for you; you work for them.” — Ken Blanchard
- “To command [lead] is to serve, nothing more and nothing less.” — Andre Malraux
- “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leaders is a servant.” — Max DePree
Service is fundamental to leadership. Being a servant leader means putting the needs of your teams — the people you work with and lead — first. It means focusing on the well-being and growth of your people, creating communities, and looking for opportunities to develop and empower your people so that they can serve and develop others.
Robert Greenleaf coined this idea of servant leadership in 1970, and I studied it while getting my Master’s degree in Management and Leadership. The more I read about this type of leadership, the more I wanted to adopt it as my primary leadership methodology.
Leading with service is ultimately leading from a place of love. That might seem touchy-feely and might feel weird in a business environment. But love isn’t just romantic and not just for families and friends. We spend a considerable portion of our lives with co-workers and at the office. And if we don’t have love there, then why on earth are we there?
Love in Leadership Transforms
Authentic leadership comes from a place of love, dedication, and service. And I believe that you cannot lead people without love. Love means setting aside priorities for people. Love means putting down pride and adopting humility. It means rolling up your sleeves. It means taking the hit when things go sideways and lifting others to accept the praise.
What would our government look like if we took time to think about why we do what we do and were more intentional and purposeful about serving our teams and co-workers? What would happen if the teams we led felt as important — or even more — than the customers? What would it look like if we really put people first — their well-being and growth — and how would that trickle down to the next teams, their families, the community, and the customers?
Leading with love — leading with service — is about recognizing that what you’re doing and whom you’re serving is so much bigger than just you and just a job. It’s a powerful way of planting seeds of faith, hope, and empowerment into people that builds a better society, “one that is more just and more loving, one that provides greater creative opportunity for its people.”
That’s the kind of leader I want to be.
Sarah C. Moffat is a mom, civil servant, community volunteer, and leadership coach. She’s also a dynamic speaker, published author, and business storyteller. Applying her real-life experiences, she conveys how individuals and organizations can create opportunities for success and growth through impactful communication and leadership. Moffat is host of the Empowered podcast and has been a featured keynote speaker and panelist across the US and beyond. She also serves as the Vice President for Communications on AFFIRM’s Board of Directors. Moffat is Prosci® certified and holds a B.S. in Psychology and an M.S. in Management and Leadership.
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