A True Leader Serves Their Constituency

A strange phenomenon has developed over the past decade or two.  People with the title of “Leader,” however one may define that, have lost sight of the most important aspect of the position: a leader is simply a servant of their constituency.  A prime example of this is the election of a Governor.  Only by the vote of each and every constituent who takes time to elect their leader does the Governor assume his or her position.  What is surprising is that many leaders do not understand the relevance in their particular situations.  The CEO of a public Fortune 500 company serves many constituents: shareholders, Board of Trustees, the SEC, and customers to name a few.  The CEO of a non-profit organization serves his or her donors, professional staff, volunteers, and end users.  Even a small business owner serves their customers, employees, and vendors.  While a formal election may or may not take place in these instances, one fact remains:  You are only a leader for as long as the people you serve deem you worthy to serve.

The common thread among these examples is simply this: all exhibit the servant nature of leadership.  Individuals and organizations which truly grasp and understand this concept are typically at the forefront of developing future leaders.  Traditionally a strong mentoring and/or development program has been created where executives work with their staff to make sure opinions, ideas, and thoughts are honestly considered.  And, most importantly, there is a strong team-oriented culture of trust.  Hundreds of other examples could be substituted but the fact remains that developing the talents is truly an exhibition of a servant leader.    Felix P. Nater (@FelixCanHelp) summarized it best when he said, “When I look in the mirror my reflection speaks volumes about what I learned from other’s interests in me.”

The opportunity to make a positive difference and serve a constituency effectively begins with recognizing that it is our responsibility to share wisdom and knowledge with our colleagues and, more importantly, with future leaders.  According to Oscar Wilde, “In America, the young are always ready to give to those who are older than themselves the full benefits of their inexperience.”  We all wish we possessed current day wisdom before we needed it.  Unfortunately, some feel that emerging leaders should acquire their knowledge on their own, instead of sharing it with them to help develop them further.   It was Walt Disney’s belief that “Our greatest natural resource is the minds of our children.”  As a leader, it is our responsibility to mold and develop promising future leaders who will further advance our efforts.  You get the best out of others when you give the best of yourself.

In concert with the aforementioned ideas, my own philosophy on the servant-leader centers around leaving the project/people involved in a position where momentum is moving in a positive direction once my participation is complete.  Frequently, I share with colleagues that I do not join groups or associations because I wish to be viewed publicly as a success.  Rather, my goal is to be viewed as someone who contributed through leaving a positive, lasting impact.  My legacy I hope to leave behind is this:  to be remembered as a leader who helped others help themselves and, in the process, produced a measurable improvement.  The words of John Quincy Adams eloquently articulate my desire to be a difference-maker: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

  1. “My legacy I hope to leave behind is this: to be remembered as a leader who helped others help themselves and, in the process, produced a measurable improvement”. GREAT comment! thanks for sharing Christopher

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