I Want to Be a Good Leader, A Servant Leader


I’ve been leading in professional settings for forty years. Many times over those decades I have heard what seems to be the truest voice of my heart say, I want to be a good leader—a servant leader. I want people to experience my leadership as for their good.

But then, a moment later, I can feel betrayed by words and actions that come from that same heart! Many of you, I’m sure, can relate to this experience, this confusing pattern. What is happening in this internal wrestling? A couple things…

First, the heart that sees the goodness and usefulness of servant leadership is really not your heart. It is the ability of your mind to see a vision. But servant leadership attitudes, words and behaviors cannot consistently come from the process of our minds. Our minds are not the determinative center of behavior. And they are not near as fast as our hearts. Our hearts are almost instantaneous, automatic. This is inner fight you feel: you see one thing with your mind, but your heart is prepared to automatically act in contrary ways.

Second, this means that the focus on becoming a servant leader needs to be on our heart, heart meaning the real, causative you; the inner operating system that rules over us—for good and ill—with an iron fist. It is this heart that we must change in order to live into the vision our mind sees.

Perhaps the most brilliant teacher to ever live put it this way:

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil manbrings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. (Jesus of Nazareth)

I know…this just raises a couple questions: How do I change my heart? How do I get it in alignment with my vision to be a servant leader?

Answering those questions is a blog for another day! Come back to this space and we will think about it together…



Dr. Todd D. Hunter

Author: Our Character at Work

Servant Leadership Institute