Archive for December, 2012

The servant-leader’s night before Christmas

T’WAS THE NIGHT before Christmas, when all of the staff
Sat around hoping a leader would come on their behalf.
Tired of the power model still in the air,
They hoped a servant-leader soon would be there.

There had been no focus on long-term success,
And short-term drivers too long caused distress.
While some struggled for a solution, others had fled;
We needed a change before going in the red.

Then amongst the board there arose such a clatter,
“Ego-based leaders” they said, “no longer matter
We’ve ousted the selfish, greedy narcissists;
Replaced them with servant-leaders, here to assist.”

Egos torn, pride drowned, the power leaders walked out,
Their golden parachutes and bonuses now in doubt.
Then, what to my wondering eyes should appear?
Not whom we expected, but one we all held dear.

One who was humble, his concerns were sincere;
We knew right then, our servant-leader was here.
His demeanor was calm, though his message strong:
“We’ve much that is broken, so the road will be long.

“Now finance, accounting and back-office teams,
We’ll focus on the future, sustainability our theme.
As for the front-office, say to our customers,
We’re seeking success for all our stakeholders.”

He asked for concerns from the group all around,
Listening for hours, until no more fears were found.
He sought out solutions, volunteers and experts,
“I’ve not all the answers and I count on your efforts”

As the night wore on, we grew less tired.
As the future looked brighter, we grew more inspired.
We were no longer feeding egos, pride and greed,
But building something far greater indeed.
New leaders were appointed, for now at least;
Many volunteered to fill gaps by those now released.
But the message was clear for all to observe:
If you want to lead here, you have first to serve.

Leaders won’t focus on fame or their name in lights.
They will have busy days, large loads and long nights.
They’ll focus instead on all our stakeholders,
putting other names forward in magazine covers.

The message hit home clearly, as we all knew,
By serving others, we’d increase revenue.
Leaders would focus on staff to impress our customers,
And with happy customers, we’d please investors.

Serving to lead, the paradox for success,
That Christmas Eve our servant-leader did impress.
Inspired we left, with challenges ahead.
A long road yes, but we’d be servant-led.

My head spun with excitement as I called my wife.
She asked “What did that boss do now, give you more strife?”
I answered “We’ve a new boss and one we deserve.
We finally got it: to lead means to serve!”

With thanks to Benjamin Lichtenwalner,