Servant Leadership is a quality that I hold very dear. I was introduced to this concept as an undergraduate member of Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity. Since that time, I have tried to incorporate it in all aspects of my life. The following is a parable that I feel best explains this concept.
From "The Journey to the East"
By Herman Hesse
"A noble Order of Brothers sponsored a mythical journey to the East. The Order selected the best men to pursue this quest, and they set out immediately with nothing more than themselves, a servant, and a destination.
Their servant, Leo, accompanied the men to help them with the details along the way and to ensure that they were properly cared for each day. Leo performed the menial duties and kept the men on task. Leo cooked the meals and kept the mood of the journey spirited and lively with his song and good nature.
Along the way, however, Leo disappeared from the group. The men looked for Leo, but couldn't find him. The men scoured the area and tried to gather themselves, but without Leo, they fell into surprising disarray. The men became hostile and impatient and were overwhelmed with all the new, unforeseen tasks-- the tasks that Leo had so selflessly taken care of. The men got hung up on the little things and couldn't focus on their destination.
Without Leo, the men could not continue.
Many years later, one of the men encountered Leo in the Great City where the journey began. The man was beside himself with happiness when he had found his long-lost servant. Leo's spirited personality was just as the man remembered, and the man embraced Leo with the love of a Brother.
Leo escorted the man to the Order that had originally sponsored the journey. To the man's surprise, Leo was welcomed immediately and led to an enormous banquet room where Leo sat at the head table. Leo was surrounded by servants of his own.
How could this be? How did this come to happen?
Leo, the servant, was actually the leader of this great Order. Leo was the man who originally chartered the mythical journey all those years ago.
The spirit Leo used to sustain the men was the same spirit he used to smile back at his own servants. The lightheartedness he used to perform the menial labor was the foundation for his effectiveness and the means by which he kept the men on task of their journey. Leo loved his men, and he cared for them. Leo wanted them to focus on their destination and not on the little things.
Leo was a servant first and then a leader.