The Heart of the Leader-Part II

In my last post I mentioned a book I am reading called Less is More Leadership by Dale Burke. Burke begins his book by discussing the value of the heart of a leader. “Great organizations are built on great leadership. Great leadership requires great leaders. And great leaders are gleaned from the fields of good people-men and women of moral character, strength, and conviction.”

Last time I looked at spirituality as a crucial component of the heart of a leader. The other critical element is that of humility. While Burke makes the case that spirituality is the power of convictions–he also argues that humility is the power of servant leadership. It is interesting to me that anyone can go to Barnes & Noble and find a bunch of books that tout the value of servant leadership. But most offer superficial ideas about what that means. I think Burke nails it when he highlights humility as key. Burke inseparably links humility with service. He states, “Humility expresses itself through the practice of serving others.” In one sense I think Burke is saying that you don’t have to define humility–it simply shows up as you serve others for other’s sake. Philippians 2:3-5 probably best describes the attitude of humility as Paul points to Jesus Christ as the ultimate servant–not looking out for selfish interests, but regarding others as more important than yourself and being concerned with the interests of others above your own interests.

Humility is not about weakness nor inferiority. Burke builds on the notion that humility actually empowers a leader. According to Burke, humility does the following eight things:

  • Accepts responsibility
  • Promotes objectivity
  • Increases teachability
  • Stimulates creativity
  • Expands flexibility
  • Boosts team morale
  • Fosters loyalty
  • Pursues excellence

A sense of pride does the exact opposite of these traits.

Burke also offers five ways to speak humility–try these on today and see what happens:

  • Say “Hello” to those you encounter-it tells others that you notice them
  • Say “Please” instead of giving orders-it tells others that you respect them
  • Say “Thank You” to those you serve alongside-it tells others that you value their contribution
  • Say “Can I Help” to those you work with and to those who work for you-it tells others that you are willing to serve
  • Say “I’m Sorry” to those who have experienced your mistakes-it tells others that you are not perfect
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