Thursday, July 4, 2013

Forgiveness : The Test of Servant Leadership

Servanthood - it's nice to talk about it but don't you start treating me like one! Browse through the management titles in a bookshop and you will find a ton of books on the subject of leadership but try doing a search on servanthood, you may be disappointed. Can there really be a marriage between these two terms to create a cliche that suits everyone? Servant Leadership - it sounds right but feels awkward.

It is easy to lead from a place of positional authority. People sit behind thick, tall desks giving orders all the time - that's the easy part. This is because positional authority works only if there is a formal reporting structure i.e. people are paid to obey. What if you want them to go the extra mile, to put in that effort of excellence? That's where positional authority falls short.

Why is FORGIVENESS (clearing the record of those who have wronged me and not holding a grudge) important? When practiced sincerely, it reveals the "human side" of our leadership. We are not as infallible as we thought we are and we are ready to admit and confess when confronted with the truth. When we practice FORGIVENESS, we are sending out the following messages to our team :
  1. I do not have all the answers. I need you.
  2. I value your sense of personal worth and esteem. That's why I am sensitive enough to ask for your forgiveness.
  3. I believe in our future potential together. So, I am not going to let any unresolved hurts get in the way.
Isn't this what real teamwork is all about? Without FORGIVENESS, the team functions but it rarely moves forward. As a leader, your role is more than just positional - you must begin to embrace your sense of moral authority as well. Nothing demonstrates our sense of humanity more than the act of FORGIVENESS itself.

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