Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Servant Leader

Someone texted me this, "Thank you. Your kind touch commands obedience". Immediately, the movie "Gladiator" came to my mind. Fortunately, my googling brought to my eyes this interesting piece called "Maximus: A Servant’s Approach to Leadership".

Wow! It's a must-read!

What i like about this paper is that it acknowledges the importance of women's role in a government, as depicted by Lucilla in the said movie: -

"Possibly the most gracious exercise of power-driven polyphonic transformational leadership is displayed by Commodus’ sister Lucilla. Her father, Marcus Aurelius had said to her early on, “If only you’d have been born a man, what a Caesar you would have made”.

Gracchus, though likely compelled by the language of court, commends her tactful defusing of escalating tension between her emperor brother and the senators saying, “My lady, as always your lightest touch commands obedience”. Boje (2005) calls this position revolutionary, and Lucilla, after Grachhus arrest, alone makes all of the arrangements for a coup.

She admits that her motivation to action was precipitated by her witnessing Maximus rise to charismatic stature, saying, “Today I saw a slave become more powerful than the emperor of Rome”. Maximus rise to revolutionary although initially misguided, nevertheless speaks to his versatility as a leader".

And of course, i would have to concur to the conclusion of this paper: -

"Being a servant leader is not a sign of weakness. Bogue writes: "The servant leader is not a stranger to power. He simply realizes that power is an instrument awaiting the engagement of more important questions: For what end, for what purpose, for what meaning will power be employed? Growth, public approval, mobility, activity, power - all these can be appropriate indicators of leadership achievement. However, the servant leader keeps these indicators in balance and holds a more complete vision of leadership effectiveness" (cited in Kuck, 1997).

"The wicked leader is he who people despise. The good leader is he who people revere. The great leader is he who the people say we did it ourselves" - Lao Tsu (cited in Eberhart, 2004) .

I doubt that any one walking out of the coliseum at the end of the movie Gladiator would be inclined to say “We did it ourselves”. However laudable empowerment might be for survivors and succeeding generations, great leadership is only characteristic of the persons who effect the change. However one might attempt to frame cause-oriented transformation, the effectiveness of Maximus was owing to his heart to serve".

For me - a leader is one who live to serve the master - that is his people, not himself. One who would sacrifice everything he has to carry out his duties. One who could not sleep soundly at night thinking how he could help those in need. One who put others before his beloveds. One who feels his power is a mighty heavy duty, not a weapon to be might. These remind me of 4 Caliphs after Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

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