Being a Servant Leader: More You, Less Me

Blog written by: Susan Dicosola, MS, CMPE – Queens Medical Associates’ Executive Director

In response to the article by: “Gina Gianatasio Michnowicz : Being a Servant Leader: More You, Less Me

The characteristics of the servant –leader are the leadership characteristics I most admire. Let’s discuss just one of these characteristics: humility. Humility as a leadership trait may seem counter-intuitive in an achievement-oriented society but humility sets the condition for success more often than you might think. Look at it from the flip-side; it is uncomfortable to work with someone who puts themselves above you and prideful behavior drives folks in the opposite direction. By recognizing the basic humanity of those with whom we interact in every greeting, every task, every project, we build successful teams.

As someone trained in economics, I also think of the “you first” approach as simply a good investment. When we help others grow, enhance their skills, and enable a “flow” state, we also thrive. In contrast, those who seek to gain at the expense of others are usually found out  quickly. By then they have then deprived themselves of the benefit of goodwill. You might say there’s a lot of gold in the golden rule.

Ms. Michnowicz writes, “A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong.” We might also consider servant leadership as a form of hospitality. The ancients like Homer remind us that hospitality is an essential underpinning of civilization. It was expected that a traveler be offered food and shelter even at a cost to oneself. Today, the mariner’s code demands a response to a distress call even if some self-sacrifice is involved. It is unconscionable to do otherwise. Hospitality was and is not a nicety but a life or death necessity. Leadership by service is synonymous with hospitality and community.

When we set the example of the servant mind in our organization, and a “you-first” orientation towards one’s fellows, i.e., humility and hospitality, we perpetuate a successful environment.  And watching that unfold is one of the most satisfying aspects of leadership.

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