A Lack of Servant Leadership in Public Service


When I sat down to write today, I was determined to avoid the topic of the day. It is November 8, 2016, and therefore it is Election Day in the United States. I’m traveling with a client right now and therefore did early voting. That said as I’ve spent the past year listening to the next crescendo I could not help but capture my thoughts on what the real problem is in our nation at this time in history. Let me first be abundantly clear that I do not like any of the candidates that have to be a part of this election. There is no good option at all because they all lack what the core competency of public service. Let me also state that this article is not designed to sway your vote in any way. In truth, it is intended to point out a gaping hole in what our nation and the world see from the once epitome of Democracy. But in truth are we not a democracy when someone can win the public vote but still lose due to the Electoral College? That makes us a republic, but also a conversation for another day.

The hole I would like to point out is the complete and utter lack of Servant leaders in national politics today. To dive into this, we must first define servant leadership. Robert Greenleaf from the Center for

Servant Leaderships says it like this:
The servant-leader is a servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to help first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is a leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them, there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.

“The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test and difficult to administer is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived? “

A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While Traditional leadership involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid,” servant leadership is different. The servant-leader shares power puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.

When you read the words above do you step back and ask yourself does this reflect what we see in the majority of our national leaders. They no longer represent the people, and they do not operate from a place of service. No, they operate from a position of self-service and personal elevation.

This is not unique to the national or state politics, nor is it peculiar to either party. This is the reason that our nation is longing for real leadership and it is not being found.
Here is my message to politicians and business leaders, find a way to identify the needs of the people, create new and effective solutions, not the same rhetoric we have heard for years. Ensure that you represent the masses not your close knit circle of backers. If we want to make this nation, great we need to bring back the innovative and creative spirit back to the forefront and create a new and inspirational solution to old problems. The business, as usual, is not going to cut it.

Regardless of your organization, these concepts apply. If we want America back to a place of leadership in the global economy, we must acknowledge where we are at today and begin to devise a solution to the problems that we face. We do not need to keep playing party politics.

And the responsibility does not rest on the Politician and the Oligarchy that is alive and well in America. The responsibility rest on the American people to pull their heads out of the sand and begin to use their intelligence to create new business, define new solutions and work together to make this nation one that the American people can be proud of now and in the years to come.

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