Lead Like Jesus by Making the Conscious Decision to Serve

Below is a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders. SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; and each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

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Humility does not come naturally to anyone.

Who hasn’t seen an example of our self-centered nature in a two-year old child in the checkout line at the grocery story, lying flat out on the floor, screaming at the top of her lungs, fists clenched because Mom wouldn’t buy her a candy bar? When the child did not get what she wanted, a temper tantrum followed.

The reality is that adults have an inner two-year-old. We know what we want, when we want it, and we are dejected, annoyed, and maybe even angry when we don’t get our way. While it’s not appropriate to lie on the floor and scream anymore, often – in our minds – we are tempted.

Our model for humble leadership lives in the servant-mindedness of Jesus Christ during His ministry on earth. We’re not likely to achieve that kind of perfect and consistent humility in this lifetime. But great leaders aspire to grow in Christ-like humility with each passing day.

If you are interested in developing as a leader by modeling the humble servanthood of Jesus, make the conscious decision to serve.

THE QUICK SUMMARY

Cheryl Bachelder joined an ailing restaurant chain and turned it into the darling of the industry—by daring to serve the people in her organization well.

When Bachelder was named CEO of Popeyes in the fall of 2007, guest visits had been declining for years, restaurant sales and profit trends were negative, the company stock price had dropped by half, the brand was stagnant, and relations between the company and its franchise owners were strained.

By 2014, average restaurant sales were up 25 percent, and profits were up 40 percent. Popeyes’ market share had grown from 14 percent to 21 percent, and the stock price was over $40. The franchisees were so pleased with the turnaround that they began reinvesting in the brand, rapidly remodeling restaurants and building new units around the world.

The difference maker, Bachelder says, was a conscious decision to lead in a new way – with servant leadership. Servant leadership is sometimes derided as soft or ineffective, but Dare to Serve shows that it’s actually challenging and tough minded – a daring path. Bachelder takes you firsthand through the transformation of Popeyes and shows how a leader at any level can become a Dare-to-Serve leader.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

A typical view of leadership puts the leader in the spotlight. Conventional leaders assume the power position and declare a new vision. They have all the answers. They’re high achievers. Perhaps they’re even a bit self-absorbed. We tolerate that because they’re going places we want to go. If they succeed, so will we.

At least, we hope so.

Servant leaders avoid the spotlight – instead, they prefer to direct the spotlight on others. Servant leaders:

  • Listen carefully
  • Make decisions that serve the people they lead well.
  • Give credit

We like the concept of servant leaders, but in reality we fear they won’t succeed. We doubt they’ll deliver superior performance results.

A leader wanting to demonstrate servant leadership is a leader who is courageous enough to take people to a daring destination, yet humble enough to selflessly serve others on the journey. This dynamic tension between daring and serving creates the conditions for the people to deliver superior performance.

Humility is not being a doormat, it is simply thinking less about our own needs, and more about the needs of others. When we do this, we exit the spotlight, allowing us to serve others well.

Dare-to-Serve Leadership is much more difficult, and in that challenge, the leader creates the conditions for superior performance:

  • It begins with a conscious and humble decision to serve others well.
  • It inspires people to pursue a daring destination, an aspiration greater than self.
  • It boosts the capability of the people and increases their willingness to take risks.
  • It holds people accountable.
  • It is appropriately confident.
  • It works.

Dare-to-Serve Leadership requires deep-rooted personal conviction; it’s a demanding path.

The Dare-to-Serve Leader has that unique combination of traits – enough courage to take the team to a daring destination, and enough humility to serve the people well on the journey. Together these traits foster the environment for superior performance.

– Cheryl Bachelder, Dare to Serve

A NEXT STEP

On a sheet of paper, draw a line down the middle making two columns. In the left column, list the first five descriptors of Dare-to-Serve Leadership from the list above.

In the left column, list your recent activities that have demonstrated the Dare-to-Serve descriptors listed.

On another sheet of paper, identify three obstacles you face in becoming a servant leader. Review the list and write at least one action to help overcome each obstacle.

Closing Thoughts

Excellent leaders set the example by aligning their actions with their values as a servant leader, just as Christ did.

James Kouzes and Barry Posner, writing in Great Leadership Creates Great Workplaces, suggest leaders ask themselves these three questions at the end of each day:

“What have I done today that demonstrates the values that I hold near and dear?”

“What have I done today that might have, even inadvertently, been inconsistent with what I value and believe in?”

This reflection will prepare you to ask a final question: “So tomorrow, what do I need to do differently so that my actions match my words?”

Servant leaders who make this a regular habit will not only be practicing their craft, they will be developing themselves and others as servant leaders – ultimately reflecting the heart of Christ who did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.

To learn more about making a conscious decision to serve in your organization, start a conversation with the Auxano team today.

Taken from SUMS Remix 19-2, published July 2015.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company. He joined Auxano in 2012.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Leaders Serve.

One of the things that I love about working for my organization is the commitment to service. Sure, we have a commitment to serve our guests, but we also serve one another.

One time, I spent a week with leaders in another organization. These were truly some outstanding people for whom I have deep love and respect, but during the course of the week, while I was under their leadership, I noticed a certain anxiety building in me. By the end of the week, I identified the anxiety. It was the absence of being in the presence of servant leadership. During this time with these leaders, they practiced privilege rather than service. When there was a line, they were at the front. When we ate, they were served first. At events, they had premium seating. When others needed help, they allowed someone else to do it.

The absence of servant leadership that I experienced helped me to value what I may have taken for granted in my organization. Leadership is a tremendous responsibility to not only lead, but also to serve those we lead. In my organization, it is imbedded into our culture that leaders are the first to arrive and the last to leave. Leaders ensure that everyone is served before serving themselves. They give deference to others and do not expect, nor accept, privilege.

For a number of years, I had the privilege of reporting to a leader that both modeled and taught servant leadership. This particular executive began working as a teenager in a restaurant for a leader that provided a servant leadership model for him to follow. Thirty-five years later, this executive has personally modeled the same servant leadership that he learned from his boss when he was a teenager. The impact of one person on one teenage team employee, later turned executive, has helped shape the behaviors of an entire organization. Thousands of employees have been tremendously influenced to put service above privilege and millions of customers have received remarkable service experiences.

What are a few key behaviors of servant leadership?

1. Don’t expect others to do what you are unwilling to do. One of the things that I learned from my leader was working side by side with my staff is very important. When they are in the trenches, I need to be in the trenches with them. When there is a challenging opportunity, we need to be right beside helping to solve the problem. He is a leader that won’t be found in the box seats at the game, but instead, working alongside employees that are serving the fans in the stands.

2. Acknowledge that every member of the team is important. In traveling to some of our business outlets with my leader, I watched as the very first thing he did was to introduce himself to every member of the team, learning names and asking questions to know them better. He rarely forgets a face or a name and people often feel valued that he takes the time to know them personally. Like his boss did for him when he was a teenager, he remembers to thank everyone for their service.

3. If there is a line, be the last one in it. Recently, I attended a company-wide event and we provided bus transportation for all of our employees to the event. As 1200 people took turns boarding the buses, this same executive was the very last one on the last bus. All the while, he was talking and visiting with employees, using the time to catch up both personally and professionally with people from all areas of the company. Putting others above yourself is the hallmark of a servant leader.

4. Share opportunities and privileges with those who might otherwise never have the opportunity.Not long after I joined my company, I was flying on a charter flight with my husband to our annual company meeting. I was an entry level employee and just grateful to be invited to the meeting. When we boarded the plane, we found our seats in first class. I watched as company executives passed through the first class section to the take their seats in the economy cabin.

5. Be inclusive. Another leader in my company, who calls himself the ‘curator of the culture,’ learned from his father, the founder, and knows that inclusivity is important to creating and growing a compelling culture. He seeks opinions and spends time with employees in all areas of the business and particularly enjoys connecting with leaders and employees in our business outlets.

At our corporate office, there are no reserved parking spots for executives or private executive dining rooms. The 350 plus capacity childcare center is available on a a first come, first served basis available to all full-time employees. The fitness center and the free group training and exercise classes operate on the same basis. Award winning leaders in the business units often have special celebrations to share their honors with their employees who have helped them achieve high goals. This type of inclusivity strengthens the culture at all levels of the organization. Individuals truly feel a part of the mission of the organization and feel treated with honor, dignity and respect.

Simon Sinek wrote in his book, Leaders Eat Last, “the true price of leadership is the willingness to place the needs of others above your own. Great leaders truly care about those they are privileged to lead and understand that the true cost of the leadership privilege comes at the expense of self-interest.”

You want to be a leader? Find somebody to serve.

> Read more from Dee Ann.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dee Ann Turner

Dee Ann Turner

Dee Ann Turner is Vice President, Enterprise Social Responsibility for Chick-fil-A, where she began her career more than 30 years ago. She previously served as the Vice President, Corporate Talent for 16 years. Over the years, she has played an intricate role in growing Chick-fil-A’s unique and highly regarded culture while overseeing recruitment, selection, and retention of corporate staff and the recruitment and selection of Chick-fil-A Franchisees. Dee Ann’s insightful knowledge and applicable tools to building an incredible and influential company culture are revealed in her book, It’s My Pleasure: The Impact of Extraordinary Talent and A Compelling Culture.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.