Becoming a Servant


imagesA very successful business man, Max De Pree of Steelcase, put together this amazing statement: “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality, the last is to say ‘Thank you.’ In between the two, the leaders must become a servant.”
For the leader, that’s where the tires hit the freeway. That’s putting shoes on dreams.  That is the reality of leadership.

Let’s look at each of these three statements:
“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality”. A leader must see how things are, and then decide how they should be.  To do that he will need to use all the resources available to him.  He will need to understand the past history and the future trends.  He will need to know his resources, people, money and expertise.  Then, he needs to plan, manage and move the organization toward the future.
It is the leader who defines the future for the organization. He cannot be so involved with pet projects or problems that he fails to steer the organization into the future.  If he fails here, the organization will fail.


“The last is to say, thank you!” You can never say this too much. A leader expresses gratitude to all when there is success. The uses every means to say ‘thank you’.  Privately through notes and conversations, and, publically through announcements.  He shares success with everyone involved from the most active and visible to the least seen, behind the scenes, participant.

A leader uses the pronoun “we” much more than he uses “I”.


“The leader must become a servant”! Leading is serving.  It is a privilege entrusted to the leader.  The leader is responsible for the success of those who work with him. He serves them and helps them succeed.  When they had been successful, he has been a successful leader.


John in the New Testament says: “Don’t just say you love others. Really love them. And prove it by your actions.” One of the loudest ways to say you love the people you work with is to serve them.

Thank you, Max.  You not only told us, you showed us!

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