29 Oct The tallest trees
There are many moments in my life that have taught me much about leadership and how people learn and interact with each other. Some of these moments have taught me ‘how to’ and others ‘how not to’. Some of these stand out from the rest, remembered with precise clarity of the time, place and setting. In some of these moments, I have learnt more in one action than any of the articles or books I’ve read on these subjects.
Through many professional development courses, we’ve unpacked what leadership is and the various characteristics of a great leader. The usual responses generally include good communication skills, making an impact and having a positive influence. Great leaders are not always those who have the most power. Great leaders know who they are and acknowledge their strengths and the areas in which they need to develop. Great leaders stand strong in who they are and what they believe in. Great leaders are consistent, which creates a certainty in which the people around them can trust and rely on. Great leaders attract followers by leading the way by example rather than enforcing a set of rules for people to adhere to. Exceptionally great leaders have servant hearts.
Servant leaders are humble enough to work alongside their people, encouraging the personal and professional growth of others, developing new leaders to make an impact in other areas in different times. A servant leader acknowledges fault and admits wrong and is open to learning from others, even those below them in an organizational hierarchy. Servant leaders invest time listening, becoming aware of who their people are, what motivates, encourages or upsets them. Servant leaders build up people, to build up organizations, to build up communities.
Servant leaders do the right thing for their people, even if it isn’t the best outcome for themselves. Servant leaders are the tallest trees in the forest. The tallest trees with the strongest, deepest roots. The tallest trees most often catch the strongest winds but their strong roots keep them standing firm between all the other trees, reaching highest to the light, showing others the way up.