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This is the last of the 7 Traits of a Great Leader. Today we’ll explore why every leader must be a suffering servant and how we can accomplish that.
“…And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” 2 Tim 2:23-26
Similar to the soldier, a servant will have to suffer. Unlike the soldier, who suffers for his cause, a servant will have to suffer under his cause. As a leader, you will constantly find yourself serving someone or something, be it a customer, a team member, a partner, or a project. This is where we, as leaders, need to buck up and get the work done.
It’s never going to be easy. If it is, then you’re doing it wrong. If you’re with me on the notion that a great leader must teach, mentor, and invest heavily in people, then you’re going to have to deal with people’s personal problems and help them grow through them.
Your assistant might break up with her boyfriend. One of your staff members might encounter serious financial problems. A partner might make a serious mistake in his or her personal life that endangers your organization’s brand, reputation, and mission.
A weak leader will take one of two paths in response:
This leader will pretend that nothing happened. They turn a blind eye, acting as though there is no problem. The problem is left to ‘sort itself out’ and no corrective action, coaching, or discipline is enacted until the organization begins to suffer in a tangible way. At this point, its usually too late and the damage is done.
The leader will flip out disproportionately at his or her employee. In the case of the assistant with relationship struggles, this “boss” will sternly tell her to leave her personal life at home or face termination. He would probably have a similar response in the other scenarios; always with the threat of discipline hanging over his and his employees’ heads.
Those are the short and wide paths. You can hardly say that a leader who would react in either way is a good servant to his people. A truly effective leader will always take the long and narrow. He or she will dig in, uncover the people problems they’re dealing with, and put in the time and effort to help those people overcome. In the process, the problematic situations that have arisen (symptoms) will be worked out and future complications avoided.
Don’t misunderstand me. A wise leader needs to exercise prudence. There will be a time when persistent personal problems that enter the workplace need to be dealt with and discipline needs to be enforced. It’s up to you to draw the line.
A great leader helps people become the best version of themselves that they can possibly be by serving their deepest, most sincere needs. They find the problem behind the problem and work to develop a solution that treats and builds up the person’s heart.
Jesus said that each tree would be recognized by its fruit and that a good person, out of the abundance of his heart, would produce good. That said, if we want good fruit, we’ve got to take care of the tree. If you want people to produce positive results, you’ve got to build them up to do so!
Yes, I believe that our character is ultimately developed in our walk with Christ, but that does not absolve us of our responsibility to help people succeed and grow in their own lives.
That is the very heart of serving the people on your team. Build them up, tend to their needs, and help them be who and what they want to be. If you can do that successfully, you will have a loyal core of followers who truly believe in you and your mission.
What can you do to better serve your team today?