“A person that has a strong but unpredictable influence.”
Deep down I believe that every single person wants to have an influence on others, to leave a mark of this world, to be remembered…but the question is, how will that be achieved? The inspiration for this Thought for the Day came from this quote my brother-in law posted on Facebook from renowned management thinker Jim Collins who said,
“The X-Factor of great leadership is not personality, it’s humility.” Jim Collins, “Great by Choice”
In looking at the factors of a company’s success, Collins said when humility is combined with ambition, it can be channeled into a cause that is bigger and more important than the individual. It is interesting that an expert in analyzing businesses attributes humility as one of the keys to a company’s success. A trait that is not so common these days, as so many leaders focus more on the bottom line than truly leading. (You can read more about this in a previous post called ★ Thought for the Day – What’s Your Bottom Line? ★). Another way to say it, is Servant Leadership. Robert K. Greenleaf first coined the phrase Servant Leadership in his 1970 essay called “The Servant as Leader,” in which he said:
“The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions.”
What a juxtaposition…one approach is that a natural feeling to serve results in the desire to lead…versus, one that is motivated by power or wealth using leadership as a means to an end. For me the choice is clear…As you might expect, I endeavor to be a servant leader whether it be with the project team at work or with my wife and kids. I want to pose this for you to ponder as you continue to read…What would businesses, and more importantly this world look like if people who are in leadership were there as a result of a heart for service? I must admit to you though, it was not always that way for me. I am naturally a very driven individual, but prior to meeting my wife, all my aspirations for the future were centered on attaining success, wealth and recognition for anything I did. Increasing “my” bottom line was the motivator in my life.
As a product of divorce, from the age of 5, I witnessed my mom struggle and persevere in raising 3 children on her own in a time when the “D-Word” was like wearing a “scarlet letter“…which only added to the heavy load she was already carrying. Subconsciously I resolved that I needed to work hard in life, but unfortunately my “driven-ness” resulted in a selfishness and egocentric focus that made me the “center of the universe.” My teenage years and early twenties were characterized with drugs and alcohol, living life far from God and doing whatever felt good and benefited me. But in 1996, I met someone who truly had the “X-Factor,” and who has been the single most influential person in my life!! Bold statement for sure but absolutely true! She taught me so much about life by the way she lived her’s…and as I got to know her more and more, I realized that the road I was on was leading to destruction, not success. If you knew me at that time, looking in from the outside, you would have seen someone who was outgoing, successful in school with a promising future…but in reality that was a faux facade, much like the old western movie sets. I was quite adept at hiding my addictions, and my quest for being the best at everything was eating me up on the inside. Through my wife’s influence and example of a life rooted in humility, rather than self, I made the single most important decision to accept Jesus as my Savior, which in turn lead me away away from destructive habits and redirected my life to one of service to others. My wife and best friend led me to understand the significance of Jesus, and with her love and support, she has completely changed the trajectory of where my life would have ended up, which is also now being passed on to our two daughters who have their mother’s heart to serve others.
So what is the X-Factor of Leadership? It is first and foremost living a life of humility and service to others! This is something I have seen my wife do day in, day out, for the past 16 years with our family, friends and people she meets along the way. But she is incapable of doing any of this without Jesus and the Holy Spirit’s power working in her life. Jesus was the ultimate model of humility when he walked this earth. Every springtime we remember on “Good Friday” what He did for us by dying on the cross. Then 3 days later, we celebrate Easter when God raised Jesus from the dead…But I know for me, I rarely give much thought to the night before Jesus was crucified when He and the disciples celebrated one last Passover meal together, referred oftentimes as “The Last Super.” That night, Jesus gave us a powerful demonstration and example to follow what servant leadership is all about when He washed His 12 disciples’ dusty feet. John 13:1-17 (ESV) recounts the entire event, but I want to pick up right after he finished at John 13:12,
“When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, ‘Do you understand what I have done to you?'”
Okay stop. I think too often we quickly move onto verse 13 without thinking about His question. If I were one of the disciples, I think I would be confused by the question. Imagine this scene, these 12 men have followed Jesus for 3 years, watching the power of God manifested in Him as He healed the sick and disabled, raised the dead to life and performed numerous other miracles. Now their leader/teacher takes on the role of a slave/servant and one by one, foot by foot, humbles himself to clean the day’s grime from their sandal-wearing feet. We don’t have a record of any responses probably because of bewilderment from the question so we will move on just as Jesus continued in verses 13-16 with the answer…
“You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.“
So the Leader humbled himself to give the greatest example I could think of for servant leadership, so that in return, the disciples would go out and do the same. It is a call to action for all of us today! Jesus said in Mark 10:43-45 (NASB)
“But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
So as you approach your leadership role tomorrow, whether that be in the office, school or in your home, lead like Jesus! Take on the mantle of servant as a representative of Jesus!
Colossians 3:17 and 23 gives further insight in developing our leadership style!
“And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”
Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”
How much different would we be if we wore this name badge? What if as we started each day, we endeavored to approach people with the heart Jesus, working for Him and looking for ways to serve others? I bet, no…I KNOW incredible things would happen! I will close with this final thought from John Maxwell’s “21 Irrefutable Qualities of a Leader”…
“Servant leadership is never motivated by manipulation or self-promotion. In the end, the extent of your influence depends on the depth of your concern for others. That’s why it is so important for leaders to be willing to serve.”
So you want to influence others, you want to have the “X-Factor” of leadership? Remember this…”In the end, the extent of your influence depends on the depth of your concern for others.”
If you would like to see the continuation of the this post go to here: