Building Servant Hearts

Leading with Heart

Give Your Life To Service

imageIf “leadership is foremost a matter of the heart” as Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges propose, why do so many leaders guard and build walls around their heart? Why do leaders feel more comfortable and lead with their head rather than their heart? 

The leaders who are afraid to risk, to show vulnerability, and to allow their heart to influence their leadership do so because it is easier to build protective walls than it is to allow our feelings and thoughts to be communicated and known. It goes against the grain of what conventional leadership has looked like. To intentionally and consistently demonstrate leadership with heart is much harder work and requires one to look inward, examine self and step outside of ones comfort zone. This is not a journey many choose to take. 

Men in particular struggle with this. We tend to focus on me rather than we. We care about our own needs rather than the needs of others. We do not consistently demonstrate the qualities of selflessness over selfishness. Men don’t let the walls down and demonstrate humility, vulnerability and maturity. We battle over choosing self or choosing others and mainly we choose ourselves.

Current leadership research by Jim Collins, Bill George, John C. Maxwell, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner point out that the most effective leaders infuse their leadership with heart and actively demonstrate selfless service to others.They are leaders who are not selfish but selfless leaders who focus on doing what is right for people and not for themselves. They demonstrate humility, care and serve. They are leaders that Rick Warren says, “give their lives for something – not a career, a sport, a hobby, fame, wealth – service is the real pathway to significance.”

Why do men tend not to choose the path of servant leadership and build a servant heart? It takes commitment. It is hard work and it means putting aside your needs and desires and initiating a critical and deep examination of self to discover who you are. This is risky and many men do not want to take this step of discovery. They fear it. However, it is a necessary stride if you want to begin to look outward and to authentically serve with a mature and humble heart. As Wilhelm Stekel says, “the mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one. 

If you choose to transform your heart to a servant’s heart and become a more effective leader here are five actions you may wish to consider:

  1. Motivate and encourage yourself to look inward. Overcome the fear of finding out who you are, what you are all about and what your strengths and gifts are. Only then can you move forward and motivate others.
  2. Mobilize, learn and equip yourself and others by building authentic relationships, serving men and serving with other men.
  3. Model and consistently demonstrate servant leadership for the benefit of those you lead and not for your own benefit.
  4. Mentor and use your gifts to encourage and contribute to the development of other servant leaders.
  5. Monitor your heart continually and check your ego at the door because it is not about self it is about service.

What holds you back from serving with heart? Can you share a story when you have demonstrated servant leadership or when someone has taken the time to serve you? Can you suggest any other actions to help in the journey of building a servant heart?


Photos Courtesy of Mark Kinnee and Trevor Lotter

Claudio Morelli

About Claudio Morelli

Maximizing the strengths and growth of individuals has always been my mission and passion. As a former Superintendent of Schools\CEO I have now transitioned into a season with a renewed mission. Initiating and fanning the flame of men who seriously wish to enhance their presence in the lives of their loved ones is my current passion. I have experienced a lifetime full of trials with much success, with some failures, and with many mistakes. Six decades of life has taught me that the investment and presence in building lasting relationships is critical to a lifetime of fulfillment.

One Reply

  1. Great post, Claudio. Those are five very important actions for leaders to take. Thanks for sharing.