“The measure of a leader is not the number of people who serve him but the number of people he serves.” John C. Maxwell
Gold. Glory. Growth.
Fast-paced persistence among high-tower spectacles. Guts and glamour for the charismatic and powerful. Highly educated, well-dressed, and overtly talented. Perceptive, experienced, successful.
Yet somewhere in the paper stacks, hidden deep within the mundane, in a place not rewarded, and in a cavern unmeasurable by analytics and charts and the quick-snap balance sheet, is the secret to leadership. It’s the force that binds the hourly employee to the accounting department. It’s the fuel that drives the human resource recruiters to ask questions that delve deeper than a bona fide resume. It’s not a meeting. It’s not a benefit. It’s not a one-time action.
The secret to leadership is serving.
The greatest leaders lead by serving. What does that mean?
The definition of “serve” is to perform services or duties for, to perform, to fulfill1. The definition denotes action, and the action is directed towards an external party. The quality of servant leadership comes from a natural or learned strategy to put others first, which may seem contrary to personal success. However, a leader is only as strong as those around him/her, so what may seem like a contradictory agenda is really a surefire approach to grow deep and wide, rather than tall and lean.
Think about it like this: the bread-winner of a household serves his or her family by working diligently daily to provide for basic needs and desires. If children are present, they are not required to carry the weight of the home, in fact, they need help with homework, tying their shoes, preparing meals, and the list could go on and on. The leader of the household assists each person in the household by helping them to fulfill their duties.
Another example that hits close to home is the U.S. military. Men and women in their prime relinquishing their grip on comfort and convenience to train and triumph, putting the needs of their country before them. They are a steadfast and silent proponent; they are like gravity to our country, holding down the fort, so we can live in a freedom we may never fully understand.
A modern example of this comes in the bittersweet exit of UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, who reminded us just today that serving is the “honor of a lifetime… I’m such a lucky girl to have been able to leave the state that raised me, and to serve a country I love so very much.” She also added that “I think you have to be selfless enough to know when you step aside and let someone else do the job.”
At Patriot Mobile, our staff isn’t just a commodity, we are a family. That’s why we constantly promote the idea that “Everyone Serves”. We have an organizational chart for reporting purposes, but the chart we live by is the one where our Members are at the top, and our Member Services and Sales team are #2. The rest of us – accounting, operations, marketing, etc., exist and function in a way where we serve, encourage and give purpose to those at the top of the chart. We don’t just give out free high-fives; we look for ways to appreciate, we pray for each other, we help each other.
The principle of servant leadership isn’t a new one, in fact, it maintains roots as an ancient philosophy2. It is vastly different from an authoritarian mindset, and very similar to participative management. Yet, it is more than simply letting employees give their input. Servant leadership is a culture that builds better organizations and challenges preconceived social responsibilities. The basic ideas are as follows3,4.
– Lead by example/Perform any job within and below your pay grade.
– Consider the needs of others first.
– Invest in others with your time.
– Commit to helping employees develop expertise and improve performance.
– Insist that the organization make a positive contribution to society.
It’s cleaning up the break room even though the janitorial staff will arrive later that evening. It’s leaving bottles of water for delivery staff on a hot summer day. It’s offering valuable encouragement, prayer and praise to the hourly worker who may be facing financial struggles at home. It’s creating a culture of hope instead of tension, purpose instead of stress. It’s upside down and inside out, or at least it seems that way when compared to more stringent views of management. The way we see it, servant leadership is how our country was founded – men and women laying down their lives for the sake of freedom.
Is servant leadership right for everyone? Maybe not. Morri Leland, CEO can be found often stating, “At Patriot Mobile, we aren’t just selling a product, we’re a company on a mission. We’re mobilizing conservatives and making conservative change happen.” We’re founded and led by those who fought and served, and we’re operated by honest and trustworthy citizens that love the country they call their home. It’s about as simple as that.
The bottom line is – at Patriot Mobile, everyone serves.
The Patriot Mobile Family