I'm on a new assignment (not with The Center)... a unique opportunity taking me to remote places on the globe. I'm working with a unique team in a unique setting. Rarely do "normal" rules apply in settings like these. The work is hard, the stress is constant, and the joy - depending on the personality - can be relatively low.
"Normalcy of the typical"
So, does servant leadership even matter in a mundane, grind of an environment? Does leadership matter at all? I mean really, just do your job, right? Even when you strip away what I have come to call the "normalcy of the typical," it becomes exceedingly obvious that God's design is paramount in all things, including working well and leading well. This is true regardless of the environment, industry, hardships involved, or even the atypical crew you might spend a season growing with.
Want to improve. Or you likely won't.
A friend, brilliant facilitator and sales consultant would often say to his audience, "This isn't rocket surgery." It was a humorous way to affirm that being good at something requires resolute desire and dedication to improvement, more than intellect and natural ability. It's a matter of the heart. Desire leads to change. Once you settle that, you will continuously improve. Then it's just a matter of learning and implementing the right behaviors and, as with most things, repetition becomes the mother of skill.
There are always excuses. I have been guilty of them myself, and I've heard them uttered by other leaders (referring to their teams), "They don't understand the pressure I'm under," "That won't work here," "Maybe in other environments, but not this one," or any variation of the same. In lieu of possessing a heart for growth and development, we can react by justifying the status quo.
"Just Get Better"
Over time, I have discovered, whatever the reasoning, that we either desire to be better leaders or we don't. In a past life, I led a multi-million dollar operating plan overseeing a wide berth of leaders and their respective regional territories stretching across the U.S. This role was sporadically fun, extraordinarily challenging, and often daunting and stressful. However, outside of the normal quantified outcomes, each day my general leadership goal was to remain "others-focused" and offer value to those I interacted with. Value to the client, value to my leader(s) and, yes, value to those I led. I used to regularly encourage others to "just get better." It wasn't in a demeaning context, but rather my team knew I simply meant, don't stop growing. I genuinely wanted them to grow, and they knew I would do anything I could to support that growth.
Great leadership - similar to great truth - can quickly die the death of 1,000 justifications. However, whatever your season, whatever your role, whatever your temperament, you can always start the process of growing. Self-awareness and self-leadership are symbiotic (and the foundation of leadership development). The place to start, is to decide to start growing as a leader.
Lead well and may you have a blessed start to the new year.
Jack Kemp is former military, an attorney, business leader, non-profit executive, organizational coach, connector and collaborator. He presently serves as Managing Principal for PrimAscend, LLC, and previously as Divisional President of a large US non-profit. He has also served on church leadership, for-profit and non-profit advisory boards and committees. Jack’s degrees include a B.S. and J.D., and he has experience in organizational assessment, strategic planning, leadership coaching, risk mitigation and crisis management.