Understanding Servitude In Leadership

People in and out of the professional realm most likely would not like to refer to themselves as “servants” in any capacity as it characterizes the horrific acts of 300 years of slavery. I often cringe when I hear “work like a slave” thrown about so nonchalantly in the culture of everday coversations from people of all races. ABC’s Good Morning America anchor, Robin Roberts several years ago, shared how she didn’t tolerate hearing people in her circle say how they were “slaving” in the kitchen or similar conversations because of the connation of the word “slave.” Sharing how she felt with her good friend and News Anchor, Diane Sawyer, led Ms. Sawyer to take a closer analysis of how that term was being tossed about in mianstream America every single day in conversation and decided to avoid referencing the phrase in her own conversations.

Diane Sawyer said she didn’t realize her saying things like “Slaving away” or working like a Slave” had upset her friend, Robin Roberts. Many people, I’m sure, like Robin Roberts and myself do not invite this form of cavalier conversation, mindful of a time in our ancestors history of being held against their will, in over 300 years of documented cases of a people of color held in capitivity, beaten to death, hunted down like animals, and traded and bought for less than the price of cattle.

When people in Leadership positions refuse to add “Servitude” to their understanding of what makes a great leader, they are unconsciously or perhaps are conscious of what the word implies. But, to be a great leader, one has to not only lead, but, serve as well. In 2011 I took a ten week leadership and coaching class under the Depaul University Hay Project and what I learned about being a leader far exceeded the surface knowledge of how I was using my own leadership skills as a supervisory nurse, in charge of others and where as a team we maintained a managed performance level of productivity and patient satisfaction. I was quite capable of doing the job other people were assigned to do and in many cases, I did do those jobs, especially during times when staff were overloaded or time management became a problem. These things were done automatically as a team effort. Leadership doesn’t just require maintaining an atmosphere of compassion, approachability or choosing people on your team that’s dependable and can get the job done.

I learned and acquired much more on Leadership under this program by testimonials of thought process, work ethics and teaching modules followed by life experiences used as examples for becoming great leaders. Many great leaders learned the basics of how to lead through trial and error and went on to change the world in some big or small way. To be a great leader you have to serve without prejudice.

Understanding the philosophy of “Servitude” from the minds of great leaders such as Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. Ghandi. Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela, doesn’t make me want to be them, only to serve like them, under a knowingly and freely given service in passion and purpose, in efforts to make a positive difference. In my leadership role as a women’s empowerment mentor and advocate, I’m here to serve you.

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