An old legend tells of a monastery in France well-known throughout Europe because of the extraordinary leadership of a man known only as Brother Leo. Several monks began a pilgrimage to visit Brother Leo to learn from him. Almost immediately the monks began to bicker over who should do various chores.
On the third day they met another monk who was also going to the monastery and he joined their party. This monk never complained or shirked a duty, and whenever the others fought over a chore, he would gracefully volunteer and simply do it himself. By the last day the other monks were following his example, and they worked together smoothly.
When they reached the monastery and asked to see Brother Leo, the man who greeted them laughed: “But our brother is among you!” And he pointed to the fellow who had joined them late in the trip.
Source | Michael Josephson in What Will Matter
PONDER AND CONSIDER
- Some people seek leadership positions not so much for what they can do for others, but for what the position can do for them: status, connections, perks or future advantage. As a result, they do service primarily as an investment, a way to build an impressive resume.
- Brother Leo reminds us of another form of leadership, servant leadership. This kind of leadership is more about giving than getting, doing rather than demanding.
- Imagine how much better things would be if more politicians, popes, bishops, priests, educators, business executives and all the many other kinds of community leaders saw themselves as servant leaders?
A student assigned to write an essay about an effective leader wrote this story:
“I’ve been taking a bus to school for years. Most passengers keep to themselves and no one ever talks to anyone else.
“About a year ago, an elderly man got on the bus and said loudly to the driver, ‘Good morning!’ Most people looked up, annoyed, and the bus driver just grunted. The next day the man got on at the same stop and again he said loudly, ‘Good morning!’ to the driver. Another grunt. By the fifth day, the driver relented and greeted the man with a semi-cheerful ‘Good morning!’ The man announced, ‘My name is Benny,’ and asked the driver, ‘What’s yours?’ The driver said his name was Ralph.
“That was the first time any of us heard the driver’s name and soon people began to talk to each other and say hello to Ralph and Benny. Soon Benny extended his cheerful ‘Good morning!’ to the whole bus. Within a few days his ‘Good morning!’ was returned by a whole bunch of ‘Good mornings’ and the entire bus seemed to be friendlier. People got to know each other.
“If a leader is someone who makes something happen, Benny was our leader in friendliness.
“A month ago, Benny didn’t get on the bus and we haven’t seen him since. Everyone began to ask about Benny and lots of people said he may have died. No one knew what to do and the bus got awful quiet again.
“So last week, I started to act like Benny and say, ‘Good morning!’ to everyone and they cheered up again. I guess I’m the leader now. I hope Benny comes back to see what he started.”
Source | Michael Josephson in What will Matter
PONDER AND CONSIDER
Be aware that your presence, your attitude, your composure and your words or discerned silence can make or break, enhance or diminish the spaces we inhabit.