You Gotta Serve Somebody

Bob Dylan

In 1979, Bob Dylan released a song called, “You Gotta Serve Somebody”

You may be an ambassador to England or France
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes
Indeed you’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

You might be a rock ‘n’ roll addict prancing on the stage
You might have drugs at your command…
You may be a business man or some high-degree thief
They may call you doctor or they may call you chief

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes you are
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody…

It’s a true story. You are gonna have to serve somebody. As ” important “as you might think you can become, your are always going to be serving somebody.

But Why?

Because that is the way life is designed. Even Jesus said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve. Wow! Really?? Even God in the flesh says that He came to serve. Who. Anybody and everybody. He came to set us free to be who we truly are. He makes a way for us to become that person as we surrender our hearts to Him.

Years ago when I learned this, I realized that I actually owe the the world my service. And what does that service look like? My love. My love for the people puts in my life to lead. Mark Tarallo of SHRM puts it this way in terms of organizational leadership development.

“Servant leaders are a revolutionary bunch—they take the traditional power leadership model and turn it completely upside down. This new hierarchy puts the people—or employees, in a business context—at the very top and the leader at the bottom, charged with serving the employees above them. And that’s just the way servant leaders like it.

That’s because these leaders possess a serve-first mindset, and they are focused on empowering and uplifting those who work for them. They are serving instead of commanding, showing humility instead of brandishing authority, and always looking to enhance the development of their staff members in ways that unlock potential, creativity and sense of purpose.  

The end result? “Performance goes through the roof,” says Art Barter, founder and CEO of the Servant Leadership Institute and CEO of Datron World Communications, Inc.

“Magic happens,” agrees Pat Falotico, a former executive leader at IBM who is now CEO of the Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership. 

Experts often describe the majority of traditional business leaders as managers who mainly function as overseers of a transaction: employees maintain desired performance levels, and in exchange they receive salary and benefits. Generally, these managers are positional leaders—they derive authority simply from the fact that they are the boss.

The servant leader moves beyond the transactional aspects of management, and instead actively seeks to develop and align an employee’s sense of purpose with the company mission.

The fruits of these labors are bountiful, servant leadership advocates say. Empowered staff will perform at a high, innovative level. Employees feel more engaged and purpose-driven, which in turn increases the organization’s retention and lowers turnover costs. Well-trained and trusted staffers continue to develop as future leaders, thus helping to ensure the long-term viability of the organization. 

To reap these fruits, several things need to happen, experts say. Servant leadership ultimately starts with an unselfish mindset. “If you have selfish motivations, then you are not going to be a good servant leader. It has to be less about you.” Moreover, the organization at large needs to sustain a workplace culture in which this type of leadership can thrive. Finally, there is a standard of character and consistency that the servant leaders themselves must exhibit on a regular basis.

As leaders, we can say anything we want, but we’re going to be judged on our behavior,” Barter says. And for the servant leader, behavior isn’t just what gets done, but how it gets done.

It’s important to remember that servant leaders are both servants and leaders. “You do serve, but it still requires the other dimensions of leadership—character and competence,” he says. Competence means that the leader has a track record of high ability and achieving results, with skills that are relevant. Character means that results and accomplishments are achieved with integrity and ethics. 

If a manager is not spending at least 25 percent of his or her time developing future leaders, then “you’re really not fulfilling your responsibilities as a leader.” 

BH/SHRM (Adapted)

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