The Ethical Edge
inspiring Leaders of Integrity
CEO, Association of California Cities-Orange County
“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”
- Albert Einstein
I’m a servant leader. Early in my career, I knew that I wanted to help groups of people meet their goals. I know many professionals who have made very meaningful and impressive careers out of servant leadership. But the most influential servant leader in my life is not a professional acquaintance, but a personal friend and spiritual teacher named Peter. He set himself apart not only by adding value to his customers, but by extending his servant leadership to his entire life…his friends, students, family, and every individual in his experience. When I realized what he was doing, I realized I wanted the same for my life.
Peter continually impresses me with his desire…his utter personal fulfillment in service to others. He doesn’t push. He doesn’t pressure. He observes. He listens. He inquires. He gets to know people because he loves people. And he adds value by responding to the values of his subject. He adds value in small, medium and significant ways. In watching him, I realized that my desire was to add value to everyone in my life… my staff, my customers, my board, my kids, my family, my friends, my acquaintances. This doesn’t mean I am a door mat or that I give up my personal needs or boundaries; these are important and remain intact. But, it does mean that I am committed to looking for ways to add value to other’s lives.
Can I be helpful, encouraging, supportive? Can I bring joy, levity, or wisdom? Do my acquaintances have objectives that I can help them meet? Can I listen, honor feelings, consider perspectives, or simply hold the elevator when everyone else is rushed? The bottom line? Can I give to others anything they value? I’ve found that it’s easy. If you love people …truly love them… you want to give. You want to see them succeed. You want to see them smile.
The more I ponder the notion of servant leadership, the more I realize it is a life style, not a business model. And to those who say I am putting myself second, the truth is adding to someone’s life adds exponentially to my life, my value, my well-being. It makes me wealthy in spirit, and gives my life meaning beyond my career.
I am on a life-long journey of learning and growth and this means adding value to those that cross my path. I want to thank my teacher and friend, Peter, for leaving the bread crumbs on his life’s path that led me not just to a career, but a life of servant leadership.
Lacy Kelly can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org