The LIFE Leadership community grieves the loss of our friend and leader Jackie Lewis. Although I have worked directly with my mentor and LIFE Leadership founder Orrin Woodward, I have perhaps one of the closest relationships with my dear friend Bill Lewis. I thought it only appropriate to write a short piece about servant leadership in tribute to the lasting legacy of Jackie Lewis.
What crosses our minds when we think about the qualities of leadership? Perhaps the fastest growing genre inside of the leadership world is the concept of servant leadership. I believe the reason that it’s so effective is because of how it makes people feel inside. The qualities found from servant leadership effectively influence followers because of how they feel when they are being served.
First and foremost I believe that we are influenced from love. When someone gives love unconditionally people witness a different set of behaviors from what they see around the world that’s motivated from personal gain. The motive of love comes from the heart. When we get the heart right we get the actions right. When a servant leader demonstrates the quality of love to another person the other person may not be exactly sure of what is happening but they do recognize that they feel good. Service is seen by example. Have you ever watched someone perform a random act of kindness? A servant leader demonstrates empathy, warmth, and affection, and when this is done it leaves something new and different inside each of us. This exemplifies what servant leadership is about. It is what the LIFE Leadership community wants to magnify.
A servant leader is unwavering in their principles. Like Jesus in the temple when He overturned the money tables, he was holding to a set of principles that he was unwilling to compromise. Being honest with ourselves makes us intensely competitive to be our very best. Performance becomes a competitive advantage because leaders aren’t happy with average behavior. In addition, a servant leader is extremely loyal. Bill and Jackie’s loyalty and determination to uphold a set of values and principles left an imprint on the entire LIFE Leadership organization. I believe those qualities came from their faith and their principled centered focus.
The way a servant leader communicates sets them apart from others. According to the authors of the best selling book Launching a Leadership Revolution, level three leadership begins and continues with communication. A servant leader doesn’t just communicate, they communicate empathetically. They listen with a sense of caring. They display kindness and display courtesy. They treat others with respect. In order to do this, we need to put others ahead of our personal agenda. We need to look for a need to fill. For example, although we develop the quality of empathy, a leader finds a way to draw out the positive qualities in others so they may find the strength or necessary tools to learn and grow from their challenges. That is true leadership.
Author C.S. Lewis faced a similar set of circumstances years ago with the passing of his wife when he wrote a short track called, ‘Our True Home’: “The Christian doctrine of suffering explains, I believe, a very curious fact about the world we live in. The settled happiness and security, which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world: but joy, pleasure, and merriment, He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God; A few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bath or a football match, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them from home.”
The sands in the hour - glass of life continue to run through each one of us. What we do with our time has the potential to echo through eternity. You leave a legacy when you place something of value in others. When you place something of value in others you transform them. Your activity becomes your achievement. What you give lives long after you die. The natural product of servant leadership will be a lingering legacy by which anybody would want to be remembered. This is why Jackie and her servant leadership will always be with us. God Bless, George Guzzardo