Monday, October 10, 2011

Ancient Perspective

This week, we are going to talk a little about stewardship. Stewardship is the idea that you are caring for something in trust for someone else... servant leaders view their organizations in this way -- as a something for the all rather than just a something for themselves.

Before we dive deep into the concept of stewardship, I thought it might be good to get a little perspective from some oldtimers. While Robert Greenleaf coined the term "servant leadership" in 1970, its been something that's been happening throughout history, and most often with positive effects. Many noted philosophers in history have encouraged the concept of servant leadership to those they teach:

This is taken from the 4th century B.C. Indian work Arthashastra by Chanakya, which details the charactistics and requirements for a Rajarshi - a good and virtuous king: "In the happiness of his subjects lies the king's happiness, in their welfare his welfare. He shall not consider as good only that which pleases him but treat as beneficial to him whatever pleases his subjects"

Lao Tzu, in the sixth century B.C Tao Te Ching, gives the following advice: "A leader is best when he is neither seen nor heard, Not so good when he is adored and glorified, Worst when he is hated and despised. "Fail to honor people, they will fail to honor you." But of a good leader, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, The people will say, "We did this ourselves."

Plato states in Republic: "No one in any other kind of authority either, in his capacity as ruler, considers or enjoins his own advantage, but the advantage of his subject, the person for whom he practices his expertise. Everything he says and everything he does is said and done with this aim in mind and with regard to what is advantageous to and appropriate for this person."

Christ says to his disciples: "If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all." (Mark 9:35-36 NKJV)

US President Calvin Coolidge stated: "No enterprise can exist for itself alone. It ministers to some great need, it performs some great service, not for itself, but for others; or failing therein it ceases to be profitable and ceases to exist."

Martin Luther King, Jr. stated: "Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."

Throughout history, great leaders have been imploring us to lead by service. They were great leaders for a reason - they practiced what they preached! Take a dose of their ancient perspective and try it out for yourself!

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