While it is a rare thing, there are times when a book helps the reader to find what it seems they already intuitively know. Telling the story through the eyes of the character John Daily, a parable unfolds that allows the reader to understand the foundational principles of leadership, specifically “servant leadership” and how these principles can be effectively applied. Within the pages of The Servant: A Simple Story About the True Essence of Leadership the reader feels a strong sense of connection and understanding with the topic, rather than a sense of being instructed or told.
The basic principles that are shared within the pages of “The Servant” are neither arcane nor revolutionary. They are presented through the character’s eyes as simple realizations that contrast with his past perceptions, practice, and understanding of what it means to lead and serve others.
While in the process of questioning why aspects of his own life feel as though they are fraying and unfulfilling, John Daily commits to spending a week, to hopefully bring the parallel roles he plays in life, into alignment and focus. The importance of the underlying values of love, sacrifice, and service begin to help John understand that leadership is not about the exercise of power, rather it is the earning of authority through service to those we lead and serve.
The book explains several leadership practices and breaks them down into pieces that help the reader to understand the concept and the stages of growth that are required to apply such learning with effectiveness. It also provides a framework for self-analysis and reflection which allows the reader a framework with which proceed toward implementing the knowledge contained within the story.
Understanding that “leadership is about getting things done through people”, the author challenges the reader throughout the story, to perceive leadership as empowering others through strong relationships, strategies for listening, and the aligning of intensions with positive actions that support. Encouraging and enabling those one leads to thrive and be successful becomes the goal of the servant leader.
The reader can be struck at times with the sensation that they are already aware of the material they are reading. The beauty of the book is the context in which the information re-emerges as wisdom which the aspiring leader can use to hone their craft, as well as serve those to whom they are responsible. After reading this book, one is left with the feeling that the lessons contained within are much deeper than they first appear. This is a book that the reader will be inclined to revisit with regularity because of its simplicity and the clarity with which the topic of servant leadership is explored.