The Servant: A Simple Story About the True Essence of Leadership
by James C. Hunter
Our Main Take-Away:
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.
Reasons to Read:
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.
With an introduction on using the principles of The Servant in your life and career, this book redefines what it means to be a leader.
In this absorbing tale, you watch the timeless principles of servant leadership unfold through the story of John Daily, a businessman whose outwardly successful life is spiraling out of control. He is failing miserably in each of his leadership roles as boss, husband, father, and coach. To get his life back on track, he reluctantly attends a weeklong leadership retreat at a remote Benedictine monastery.
To John’s surprise, the monk leading the seminar is a former business executive and Wall Street legend. Taking John under his wing, the monk guides him to a realization that is simple yet profound: The true foundation of leadership is not power, but authority, which is built upon relationships, love, service, and sacrifice.
Along with John, you will learn that the principles in this book are neither new nor complex. They don’t demand special talents; they are simply based on strengthening the bonds of respect, responsibility, and caring with the people around you. The Servant’s message can be applied by anyone, anywhere—at home or at work.
If you are tired of books that lecture instead of teach; if you are searching for ways to improve your leadership skills; if you want to understand the timeless virtues that lead to lasting and meaningful success, then this book is one you cannot afford to miss.
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Tim, with his extensive background in education and management, is a great part of our Fired Up! team dedicated to inspiring teams and leaders. At Fired Up!, our work is dedicated to harnessing the power of culture to equip leaders, build amazing teams, and align operation practices to engage organizations and drive breakthrough results.