Everything about NorthFork is geared to helping young and emerging leaders reimagine leadership in a world of “we” rather than a world of “me.”
The plain truth is they will have to do more than simply reimagine it. Taking great care not to get lost thinking about tomorrow’s leadership on today’s terms, they will have to walk the talk in ways that make talking unnecessary. The days of imitating the autocratic, hierarchical—even arrogant—“leadership” of a bygone era have slipped with the sun over the horizon. A new dawn rises.
With this new day comes an appreciation for leadership that matters. From my vantage point, the way to look to our future is to carefully consider our past. In so doing, we find ourselves face to face with an astounding realization: great leaders—true, authentic leaders—have blazed the trail. We need only to find and follow the signs they left behind. We must look beyond the distractions—the buzz words and philosophies of the day. Keeping our heads above the fray will let us remain alert to the dangers (the snares and temptations that lure us away) on our journey.
Tomorrow’s leader will look nothing like the leader of today. In fact, tomorrow’s leader will look nothing like a leader! Nor will they busy themselves producing other leaders (as Ralph Nader and others suggest) because that “tomorrow” is today. Something more is required. Tomorrow’s leader must possess an incredible amount of courage and self-awareness. They will be very comfortable with who they are. So much so, tomorrow’s leader will not delight in their own success but, rather, in the successes of those who have chosen to be counted among them. Tomorrow’s leader will be hard to find as they spend their time behind and beneath those who have chosen them to lead—they will be busy lifting others within reach of dreams of their own.
We live in a day when leadership principles hold worldwide application and appeal. The world yearns for leadership; not the glitzy, glossy, gives-good-press veneer that often passes for leadership in the public eye but, rather, a vulnerable, humble, soft-spoken kind of leadership that invites folks to listen, to trust, and to follow; self-leadership. Ironically, leaders of this caliber are not going to refer to themselves as leaders. In fact, they are not likely to speak of themselves at all. As a shepherd knows his sheep, tomorrow’s leader will know her “tribe.” Tomorrow’s leader will speak highly (and often) of those they love, and those they wish to see succeed. They will understand what it is to sacrifice and do so willingly. And they will understand gratitude; they will be thankful for all the good that comes to their people.
Truth is, tomorrow’s leaders will busy themselves serving others, not being served by them. As the focus of an organization undergoes a metamorphosis, of sorts, under this form of self-leadership to realign itself with the people rather than the bottom line, the organization may go through a period of chaos and uncertainty. As the dust settles, what will emerge is the fresh scent of a leader who smells like their sheep. When that happens on a wide-scale level, the perception of the American public is sure to change.
Leading, we are learning, is not something one does; it is something one becomes. Tomorrow’s leadership is about people, not power. It is the outward manifestation of a caring heart, passionately concerned for the preservation of justice, equity, and the universal good of the people. Tomorrow’s leader will gently, yet decisively, move the masses through inspiration and vision. Such is the nature of servant leadership. On a very basic, pragmatic level, servant leadership works. It is the stuff dreams are made of, especially the dreams of those who follow tomorrow’s great leaders—today.
A great leader is first seen as a servant to others. These servant leaders recognize they have an opportunity to help make whole those with whom they come in contact. In his essay, The Servant as Leader, Greenleaf writes, “There is something subtle communicated to one who is being served and led if, implicit in the compact between servant leader and led, is the understanding that the search for wholeness is something they share.” This general awareness and, more specifically, the leader’s self-awareness, strengthens one’s understanding of ethics, power, and values while lending itself to a more integrated, holistic position on pertinent matters of concern. As Greenleaf observed, “Awareness is not a giver of solace—it is just the opposite. It is a disturber and an awakener. Able leaders are usually sharply awake and reasonably disturbed. They are not seekers after solace. They have their own inner serenity.”
Servant leadership undeniably offers great hope for the future in creating better, more caring, organizations—organizations that realize all leadership is essentially self-leadership. What an exciting time awaits us!
Many around the world can experience the first waves of excitement by joining our Leadership UpsideDown ning platform. This platform provides young & emerging leaders powerful opportunities to learn from the very best leadership minds and servant hearts in the world and, at the same time, talk with their peers anytime, anywhere in a servant leadership setting.
The platform will help us nurture qualities resident within their hearts through four (4) primary roles: Character, Compassion, Communication, and Courage.
From where we stand, Character and Compassion are twin sisters. You do not see one without the other in a servant leader. It is through this blending of compassion and character a servant leader summons the courage to communicate their heart’s desire ~ in this case, to serve another and, in so doing, serve humanity.
Servant leaders do more than simply serve. We will help young & emerging leaders focus on four key roles in their work to improve humanity: Serving, Following, Mentoring, and Leading.
The role can change at any given time for any number of efforts. One can lead a group while comfortably follow in another. At the same time, she may mentor someone and, through example, serve someone else.
John F. Kennedy said, “Leadership and Learning are indispensable to each other.” We could not agree more. That’s why we will focus on four key ways servant leaders can learn as we continue to encourage all young & emerging leaders to look to the strengths of each in any given situation:
• Learn by Doing
• Learn by Studying
• Learn by Observing Role Models
• Learn by Teaching Others
One very important way to discover the value of these roles is to take notice of others performing them. That’s why we have created a Servant Leader Hall of Fame on the Leadership UpsideDown platform. In one way or another, every servant leader in this Hall of Fame demonstrates the profound impact we can make when we take to heart the words of the 19th century Arab Prophet Bahá’u’lláh:
“Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility.”
Find out more at Leadership UpsideDown!