I recently attended the Berrett-Koehler 20th anniversary celebration. BK is a small San Francisco based publisher dedicated to creating a world that works for all. I’m thankful to be one of their authors. At this year’s meeting, I was asked to be on a couple of different panels along with several other authors. During one of those interviews, all was going smoothly and quite predictably until one of the other authors looked at me and said, “Are you a servant leader?”
Instinctively, I began to share with her and the audience some of the things we’ve done to create a leadership culture in our organization. She interrupted me and asked again, “No, I’m not talking about your company - are YOU a servant leader?”
I gave her the only answer I could, “I’m trying.”
As I reflect on my response a week after the event, I stand by it. I am trying to be a servant leader. I’m also trying to be an author. I have a growing appreciation about how hard it is to do both. Here are a few of the reasons…
Servant leadership is a higher form of leadership. It is demanding. I don’t think I’ll ever reach a level of mastery to warrant a resounding “YES” to her question. Besides, I think servant leadership is as much a journey as a destination. I’m fearful that to assume an arrival would be to falter.
There is a tremendous time commitment required to lead well. I’m also learning that to write well requires time also. It’s very easy for me to see how some people devote themselves fully to writing. The task seems endless. I’m not sure I’ve ever finished writing anything – I usually just abandon the current draft when the deadline arrives.
It’s easy to think about some things conceptually – leadership is one of those things. However, leaders must be a combination of idealist and pragmatist. The world in which we lead is extremely demanding, and leaders must produce results. Therefore, I constantly feel the tension as I write about leadership and related topics to speak the truth as I see it and as I experience it. Virtually none of what I write about is easy. I don’t mean to portray it as such. Here’s my commitment to you:
I will not only write what I think, but I will try every day to practice what I preach.
I want to serve leaders any way possible. For me, during this season in my life, I will continue to lead and try to find words to share my learnings with you. Maybe I can be a leader and a writer too.
Thanks for reading and for leading![GLS_Shield]