Service Leadership or Self Sacrifice

I have seen leaders pushing themselves to the limits the past two years. It is easy for people to look at leadership and say they should be (fill in the blank). I begin to feel the pressure to do what others are saying. At times I hold my job too close to my heart. I start to chase positive feedback from others. That is not servant leadership. When this happens, I typically stretch myself too thin. I go from servant leadership to self-sacrifice to becoming resentful (ouch!).

I start to push my goals and daily targets to the side. I have recently heard building-level principals struggling with supporting all of their stakeholders. As they begin to spread themselves, increasing thinner, they neglect themselves. I imagine we can all relate. We want to have a good pulse of what people need in leadership. There comes a time when we need to recognize when our well-being is being compromised. You hear the analogy of leaders all the time. We need to put our oxygen masks on first over and over again. You rarely see action being taken to advocate for leaders to do this. A Twitter post is excellent, but where is the step past the social perception that we support our leaders.

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What has helped me recently is to look at every situation with two outcomes. What is the positive, and what is the negative? I identify the two. I then shift my focus to the positive. I turn my focus to positive thoughts and actions. I try my best to be a servant leader. It is not easy. To serve, we must model positive thinking and action. If I am focusing on negative feedback, I become a people pleaser. In my experience, no amount of energy or time can make others happy.

I can fail and continue to learn and stay positive throughout the journey. It is hard. That is authentic servant leadership.

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