We know that life shouldn’t be just about making more money, buying a bigger home, or having a selection of cars in the garage. It may include those things, but it has to be about more. But what? I believe life is about a calling—a calling to serve.
People think that to be a leader you have to be promoted upward and have a high-level title. But it’s not about that, either. The only place to find your calling is to find it within. If you have a desire to serve, you are a leader.
Leaders are called to serve in these distinctive ways:
To serve our families. Make sure those you love know you’re there for them, even when they’re not there for you. If you are called to serve you show up with best of what you have to offer—and when it comes to serving our family, there’s no such thing as going too far.
To serve our communities. Do you volunteer, give back, pay it forward? Does your community know who you are and what you are willing to do for them? Many people, even leaders, are so busy with their own lives that they forget that leadership is a calling to serve those around you and beyond you. A significant part of your call to lead might be with your community, whether that means serving on city council or informally scheduling neighbors to check on an elderly neighbor who lives alone.
To serve our customers. Build a relationship with your customers and clients and serve them well. Work to understand their needs and then work to meet those needs. Treat them like family; care for them and serve them well. Customer loyalty is always priceless, so make your customers partners in your mission, and always give them more than they expect.
To serve our employees. Changing minds, moving hearts and inspiring lives require a deep commitment. Being called to serve as a boss or director isn’t an easy vocation. It asks you to be fully responsible for others, to consistently and continually demonstrate the highest commitment. Your interests lie in the interests of others, so serve the people who help you make an impact.
To serve from inside out. It’s an old-fashioned concept, a calling, but when you’re called, it really is something you feel inside. And when you’re called to serve in leadership you must under all circumstances and challenges hold yourself accountable for your own actions, making sure you follow through on your promises and your actions are consistent with your words. You either lead by example or not at all—and that means that what you practice on the outside comes from the inside. it comes from inside that is being practiced on the outside.
To serve up change. To have an impact, sometimes you have to initiate change and shake things up. At other times change is imposed from outside and it’s your role to take charge of change and help others navigate through it. Facing change as a leader in service requires a strong commitment and a belief that what you are doing is meaningful.
To serve the world. You don’t have to look to history to have an impact on the world—look within. What can you do, how will you influence, where will you make a difference? Those who are called to serve work to sustain hope for others. That’s a tall order in times like these, when our country and world are experiencing low levels of trust and high levels of cynicism. But don’t despair or be intimated by the challenges. All of us who are called to serve must keep hope alive; the antidote to the increasing cynicism and stresses of our times will come from the faith and hope we have in others as we serve them.
Leadership comes from inside of all of us but we each choose the quality and form of that service.
The choices you make and how you enlist your relationships with others will make the difference. If you are called to serve, embrace the opportunities and the responsibility that come with that calling, because it will make a profound difference in your own life and in the lives of others.
LEAD FROM WITHIN: The call to serve can come anytime, anywhere. Are you ready to lead and serve with all that you have from within?
N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
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Photo Credit: Getty Images
Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.
10. Aug, 2016
Great analysis, Lolly!
Thanks for listing all the areas in which we as leaders serve. To be honest, there are some areas I forget. For example, I don’t think of serving the community as something I do as a leader in the traditional sense; I always thought of it as something I did personally.
Your article reminded me of a video of Bob Farrell my boss showed me a few years ago. It’s silly and a bit dated, but the premise is that serving is about doing the one thing extra that people appreciate, which he calls “the pickle.”
While he’s talking mostly just about serving customers, I think the same concept could apply to the areas you mentioned here. For example, we could serve employees with distinctive praise and specific recognition (something my last boss did superbly).
This article is a great reminder. Thanks!
09. Dec, 2016
Been following your Twitter for awhile, but decided to check out your blog. So glad I did! This post in particular is awesome! You hit the nail on the head with this article and I think it’s so important both for leaders and for those who aim to teach leadership to remember that the first fundamental of leadership is service!
18. May, 2017
I agree that we end up serving something and/or someone at some point in our life. An example that I think that most of us experience in serving is family whether it be your parents/guardians, siblings, aunts and uncles, and cousins, and I think that this is the most personal way of being called to serve because there it comes from a place of genuine caring because those are people you never want to let down. I also think that serving shows off your commitment to something like with I said early with family but also with you job or career, and maybe even a cause you believe in.