'Tis the season for the final edition of The Tuesday Leader, and as we cozy up to Christmas and the New Year, let me, Safiyyah Abinet, RWC's Marketing Director, be your guide through today's festive leadership exploration. We're at that season again where our collective focus turns toward the babe in Bethlehem, and you don't have to be a believer to peruse the Biblical accounts of the life of this Man named Jesus, to see powerful leadership skills that are applicable to us in 2024. But for today, I want us to zone in on one skill in particular: servant leadership. If we can get this one packed down, the rest will be a piece of...Christmas cake!
So, snuggle up with a cup of your favorite festive warmer, and join me on this journey as we unwrap the leadership wisdom nestled within the heart of the Christmas story.
Servant leadership is a compelling philosophy that combines authority with humility, placing the needs of others at the forefront of one's leadership approach. In this profound model, a leader goes beyond traditional hierarchical expectations, choosing to serve and support their team members with authenticity and selflessness. Rather than viewing leadership as a position of power, servant leadership sees it as a responsibility to enhance the wellbeing and growth of those under one's guidance. This leadership style is characterized by active listening, empathy, and a commitment to the development of individuals within the team.
This culture of collaboration, trust, and mutual respect, not only empowers individuals to reach their full potential, but also cultivates a positive and productive organizational environment.
One compelling example of servant leadership in the life of Jesus is the story of Him washing the feet of His disciples during the Last Supper. In this instance, Jesus, aware of His divine authority, takes on the role of a servant by performing a task typically reserved for the lowest-ranking household servants. Washing feet was a practical and necessary act in a culture where people wore sandals and the roads were often dusty and dirty.
Despite being recognized as a teacher and leader, the Master of Leadership demonstrated that true leadership involves a willingness to serve others. This act of washing feet symbolizes the core tenets of servant leadership:
putting the needs of others first
serving with a genuine desire to contribute to the well-being of those under one's care.
Lessons of Servant Leadership We Can Apply In 2024
Jesus, despite being a revered teacher and leader, demonstrated humility by performing a task typically reserved for the lowest-ranking servants. Imagine the impact on team dynamics if, in our modern workplaces, leaders were to set aside the trappings of authority and willingly engage in tasks perceived as menial. Do we step into the humble spaces where our team operates, recognizing that no task is beneath us when it comes to serving others?
Servant leadership places a premium on humility, emphasizing a leader's willingness to involve themselves in tasks that contribute to the well-being of others, irrespective of their hierarchical position. This approach challenges the traditional top-down leadership paradigm and promotes a more collaborative and supportive organizational culture. For instance, imagine a senior executive taking the initiative to assist in routine tasks during a busy period, such as organizing a team event or helping with the workload during a critical project phase. In doing so, they demonstrate a commitment to the collective success of the team, fostering a sense of unity and shared responsibility.
Leading by Example
The practical demonstration of servant leadership is evident in Jesus' explicit statement about setting an example. This declaration, found in the biblical account in John 13:15, underscores the intentionality behind His actions. Aware of the cultural norms and expectations associated with leadership, He personally engaged in an act traditionally assigned to the lowest-ranking household servants, by doing this Jesus broke down societal hierarchies and challenged preconceived notions of leadership.
In contemporary leadership terms, this translates to leaders explicitly communicating our commitment to serving others, not just through words but through tangible actions that align with the values of humility and genuine care for the well-being of the team. By setting clear examples and expectations, leaders can inspire their teams to embrace a servant leadership mentality in their day-to-day interactions.
Jesus attended to each disciple personally, highlighting the importance of individualized care. An illustrative example from this foot-washing account is the way Jesus interacted with Peter during the foot washing incident: When He approached Peter to wash his feet, Peter initially resisted, expressing discomfort and questioning the appropriateness of the act. In response, this powerful Leader engaged in a personalized conversation with Peter, addressing his concerns and explaining the deeper significance of the gesture.
Jesus recognized that Peter had reservations, and instead of imposing His actions, He took the time to understand Peter's perspective. He responded not with a generic explanation but tailored His communication to address Peter's specific concerns.
Leadership is about recognizing the individual needs, concerns, and strengths of each team member. Just as Jesus took the time to understand and respond to Peter's unique situation, effective leaders personalize their approach to address the diverse needs within their teams. This might involve adapting communication styles, recognizing varying levels of support required, or tailoring leadership strategies to maximize the potential of each team member individually. Through such individualized care, leaders build stronger connections with their team, fostering a supportive and inclusive work environment.
Encouraging Reciprocal Care
Hear the Divine Leader as He speaks to His team: "Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet." Beyond the act of washing feet, Jesus imparted a potent ethos of mutual support within His disciples. His actions went beyond the physical task, serving as a catalyst for a profound cultural shift within the group. By choosing to demonstrate servant leadership, He effectively modeled a cooperative spirit, an environment where each disciple not only received care but was also inspired to reciprocate it to their fellow team members.
How about you?
Imagine being a team leader who not only offers guidance and mentorship but actively creates an environment where team members support each other's professional growth. You will be that who leader promotes collaborative problem-solving and ensures that individuals within the team extend a helping hand to their colleagues.
Or, how about if you are an organizational leader who prioritizes employee well-being? By establishing wellness programs, mental health resources, or mentorship initiatives, you will be that leader who encourages a reciprocal culture of care where team members actively contribute to the overall health and success of their peers.
Are you fostering a culture of reciprocal care within our teams? Do your actions as a leader not only demonstrate care but also inspire team members to actively engage in supporting and uplifting one another?
So, we're here, we've finally made it to our last edition of The Tuesday Leader, nearing the end of the year. Now it's up to you what kind of leader you are going to be in 2024. What you were, you can learn from. What you will be, you can make that happen today. The wisdom we draw from the Christmas story extends beyond festive traditions; it encapsulates timeless principles, and in particular, the art of servant leadership embodied by the man, Jesus Christ. Let this guide us into 2024. Embrace the ethos of servant leadership, and may the New Year be adorned with collaborative success, genuine care, and the fulfillment of leadership aspirations.
On behalf of the RWC team, we extend warm wishes for a Merry Christmas and a thriving New Year!
'Tis the season for enlightened leadership!
RWC's Marketing Director and Curator of The Tuesday Leader
As a corporate coach, RWC's Founder and CEO, Rachel Wells, has had the privilege of mentoring and coaching numerous managers throughout her career. From recruitment to tech, non-profits to education, and even hospitality. she has seen first-hand the transformative power of effective leadership. Seven of her own employees were promoted and progressed to other roles internally as a result of her coaching leadership approach. Imagine the incredible possibilities that await your organization when you fully leverage your existing talent. If you're ready to witness transformational results and take your business to new heights, join forces with Rachel. There are are a few ways that she can help you: