by Ivana Braga
This year I have been hearing about leadership more than I have heard of it in my entire life. Many Americans talk about that quite often, and not only in the professional area; it is on the TV shows, conversation between parents and children, and as part of the lifestyle. For me the idea to relate success to leadership never sounded good. Why should I be someone who people follow? How will be the relationships work in a society where everybody wants to be leader? I started to answer those questions from a concept of servant leadership.
To lead is to serve. The approaching of these two opposite words brings up the revolutionary perspective, which dislocates leadership as individualist and selfish accomplishment to a participative role in a society. The servant leader considers the active voice of his/her partners (I don’t like the word followers), as a player that influence and has its needs highlighted. In sum, the power is shared.
Despite hierarchical leadership and vertical administrative structure resisting until today, they are a format from the past and they will not survive longer because their effectiveness is decreasing. Servant leadership is much more coherent with today’s aspirations for democracy and flexible organizational environments. Leaders of the 21st century have self-awareness; they build communities, are committed to people’s growth, and are empathetic listeners. (Larry Spears, Ten Characteristics of a Servant Leader)
Finally, servant leadership is practice. Day by day, servant leaders should remember that they are writing a new paradigm. The world based on this kind of relationship doesn’t exist, yet. The inputs we receive are still impregnated with individualism and self-affirmation. The new world is building every time we decide to experience the power of empathy and healing. This way, everyone could be leader, servant or both, and a society founded in those roles will have healthier relationships.