Servant leadership collides with a princess

By Emma Belcher

The idea of servant leadership is a concept well known to me as I’m sure it is for many of you. By virtue of it’s anti-cultural nature, when it’s displayed, it will be noticed. This, of course, is not a bad thing because the qualities displayed are things such as humility, selflessness, integrity – things where the person matters more than the task at hand.

I am young, I have a long life ahead of me. No doubt many opportunites where I will find myself in different leadership positions, where I imagine tough challenges will arise, and I hope servant leadership will not just be a phrase but a way I choose to conduct myself.

And then here I find myself, relatively recently, where the only thing I’m ‘leading’ is a sassy, flinstone-sounding, 13 month old girl. And I tell you what, she does not care what Mum did before she came along. The Queen of the Castle has been replaced by a demanding (albeit gorgeous), boystress Princess. What happens when servant leadership has to be displayed in a setting you wouldn’t necessarily have expected?

It is in this place where all those values that servant leadership upholds really come to the surface. There’s always that feeling you get on a job well done, especially the recognition that’s attached to it, where you think, yes all that hard work and putting people first mattered. Of course the goal is not recognition, but it certainly is a nice perk. Celebrating with your team, knowing you’ve all done well. Now you can put your feet up and have that well-deserved weekend off.

In this new role, the celebratory ‘well dones’ and clink clinks aren’t really in the job description. Your needs have not registered on the to do list; everything you do is for the other. Your goal this day, this week is to make sure a little person is thriving and having their every need meet. This is at the heart of servant leadership. Your joy and sense of achievement is now placed elsewhere. Before it was in what you accomplished with others or yourself and that sense of self gratification. Now, it’s in knowing that there’s one little person who is thriving purely because she is loved. She doesn’t care about your degrees or achievements, that’s not what she needs. If she needs another go on the swing, another ‘wheels on the bus’ sung to her (even very badly), then it is my joy to provide this. And this is a choice I have to make. That’s what servant leadership is; choosing the other without the expectation of return. And of course parents get a lot in return, this is just easy to forget at times. But having a happy babe in this world yaba daba’ing her way through it is all the recognition I need. Servant leadership has taught me that.

Photo: Imogen 20 week scan.

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