Posted on February 5, 2018

The third phrase in our School’s purpose statement says, “…with a heart for servant leadership.” Our goal as a school is to deliver a holistic education, one that prepares young people to make a difference to the communities in which they ultimately will live and work.

We often think that leadership is the domain of the few. It is true that there are limited leadership positions, and we look to those people to lead us with a clear vision, morally and ethically, with empathy and courage, but in reality from time-to-time we all act as leaders.

Ken Blanchard penned my favourite definition of leadership. He says that every time we seek to influence another person we are behaving as a leader. Each time we encourage a friend to go to the movies or out for dinner, or when we coach a team, we are influencing another person’s decisions. By this definition we are leaders.

There are well over 30,000 definitions of leadership. This is because it is a socially-constructed phenomenon; the concept only exists when people come together and relationships are complex. Ultimately, leadership doesn’t exist if no-one is willing to follow!

Servant leadership is what our School espouses. This is because we are an Anglican School and we promote the Christian world view. People often mistake the notion of servant leadership as a weak form of leadership: servant leaders are the ones who do all the work, who act as the “doormat” for others. This is not what servant leadership is.

Servant leadership is perhaps the toughest form of leadership because it is the only one that asks leaders to forgo themselves and to put others’ needs above their own. Servant leadership means that it’s not all about me, but about you. It is selfless. It calls for remarkable humility.

Jesus is the greatest demonstration of what it means to be a servant leader. He said, “The Son of Man didn’t come to be served, but to serve.”

Preparing young people with a heart for servant leaders is about helping them to understand that a person’s true sense of purpose and value can be found when they put others first; when they seek to make a difference and leave the world in a better place than when they found it. The key is empathy.

If anyone is interested in reading further about servant leadership, I can recommend the following three books:

  • “Leaders Eat Last” by Simon Sinek
  • “Lead like Jesus” by Ken Blanchard
  • “Humilitas” by John Dickson

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