By Lameck Otim
Position of leadership is what man strives to attain, which starts on the kindergarten playground. In child’s play, leadership presents privileges of deciding what game to be played and the team memberships. Later in life, scuffles for leadership take place in business and corporate corridors. Here, the stakes are higher and the wounds deeper and lasting. Business leadership comes with several treats, most importantly power, which, if not well harnessed, is destructive to both the leader and the business.
As in all communities, the Apostles of Jesus jostled for leadership, debating among themselves on who would be the greatest. Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, instructed them in true leadership, saying “for he who is least among you all will be greatest”. Jesus further stressed the importance of this message while ending His ministry by washing the feet of His disciples (a job that was reserved for the least of the slaves in a household). While performing this act, Jesus was not partial to Judas, who He knew would betray Him, nor Peter, who would deny Him three times.
This style of leadership taught by Jesus is popularly coined as Servant Leadership by Robert K Greenlaugh, the great proponent of this leadership style (www.greenleaf.org). Greenlaugh explains the servant leadership approach as the servant first, it begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve first. He further explains that this style of leadership enriches lives of individuals, builds better organizations, and ultimately creates a more just and caring world.
Servant leadership is contrary to the more common authoritarian style practiced today. This is because the expectation of business leaders today is that they are expert and have to be in full control. This leadership belief tends to draw leaders into being controlling, which in turn cultivates fear in the organization. These leaders are also regrettably inclined to be continually drained as they direct all facets of the organization; in the process pushing employees into rebellion or indifference.
In the servant leadership practiced by Jesus, we see that He preferred to trust in His disciples. You see, this acted out when during one of His preaching crusades the disciples asked Jesus to send the five thousand men congregation to the surrounding villages to get something to eat. Jesus’s response to this was “You give them something to eat”. This reaction must have challenged His men to limits of faith that caused them to be part the miraculous feeding of the congregation from five loaves of bread and two fishes.
Jesus further showed trust in His disciples when He gave them power to perform supernatural deeds and then sent them into the cities with a simple set of instructions and no provisions. Similarly when God gave instructions to Moses to build the tabernacle, He spoke of the team saying “I have put wisdom in the hearts of all the gifted artisans that they may make all that I have commanded you”. Moses was therefore obliged to depend not in his oversight but the potential of the artisans to get the job done.
In a Harvard Business review article of June 27 2014 titled; Proven ways to earn your employees trust, Carolyn O’Hara writes that “When Employees feel empowered to succeed and believe that the goals of the company are defined with their own, they will work harder and smarter. For managers, this means delegating tasks and granting as much autonomy as possible, while also making it clear what your expectations are and how performance will be measured. People will trust you if you trust them.
Clearly, fulfillment in an organization comes from adopting the leadership style taught by the best, Jesus Christ. He still leads His Church today after 2,000 years during which period it has survived innumerable attempted take overs, unfair competition, destructive legislation, member walk – outs, changes in buyer preferences etc. If the Bible is the book of truth and our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word, then it is evident that Servant Leadership is undoubtedly the style to be adopted for lasting success in all areas of family, business and Government.
Lameck Otim is from Uganda, Africa. After a train smash encounter with Christ that threw a tail spin a 17 year Corporate banking career, he turned to writing in an attempt to reach out to peers and friends for Christ. It is in his writing that Lameck found purpose, sharing the life changing truths of the Word of God, mostly drawn from my his own experiences in the salvation journey, family and workplace.
Lameck has been married for 14 years and has 4 children (between one and 11 years old). Being a Christian has enabled him to find such fulfillment in family that he never thought was possible.