An old legend tells of a French monastery that was 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 as to who should do various chores. On the third day they met another monk who was also going to the monastery.
This monk never complained or shirked a duty. Whenever the others would fight over a chore, he would gracefully volunteer to do it himself. By the last day, the other monks were following his example, and everyone 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!” pointing to the fellow who had joined them late in the trip.
Today, many 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 advantages. As a result, they do service primarily as an investment, a way to build an impressive résumé.
The parable about Brother Leo teaches another model of leadership, where leaders are more preoccupied with serving than being followed, with giving than getting, with doing than demanding. It’s leadership based on example, not command. It’s called servant leadership.
Can you imagine how much better things would be if more politicians, educators, and business executives saw themselves as servant leaders?