Facilitators Exemplify Servant Leadership

By Mark Vickers, Ph.D.Facilitator

Facilitators are often overlooked as leaders, primarily because they tend to be reserved, don’t demand attention, and are more concerned with the overall team dynamic than with personal appeal. Ironically, these are just the qualities that are demanded in servant-leadership.

As a culture, we have come to believe that good leaders are forceful, engaging, and even loud. That’s how leaders lead, right? They get your attention. But if the purpose of leading is to influence others, are those qualities really necessary? Must leaders force their influence upon others as we are often led to believe? No.

Many great leaders with lasting influence have been soft spoken, humble, and self-effacing–leading by serving others. People follow them because they want to emulate their life and behavior. Think of Gandhi or Mother Teresa (both undoubtedly Facilitators). Their influence has and will go on long after their deaths because people found something in them that they did not in other leaders, behavior so centered on serving others that it defied logic. Each extraordinarily ordinary by the world’s standards (poor, weak, and quiet) that they changed the world by changing the world’s standard of what leaders were thought to be. They became the face of servant-leadership for the 20th century–arguably, the most positive change agents of their time.

Few will match their influence. But as leaders, we can strive to emulate many of their qualities. And perhaps that is their legacy and why we even regard these humble souls as leaders. They make us better because they change our definition of leadership.


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