Leaders Serve & Sacrifice

One of the classic texts on leadership is Kouzes & Posner’s A Leader’s Legacy. The first chapter “Leaders Serve and Sacrifice” has some incredible quotes on the leader’s heart of service and willingness to suffer. Here are a few:

“Leadership is not solely about producing results. Success in leadership is not measured only in numbers. Being a leader brings with it a responsibility to do something of significance that makes families, communities, work organizations, nations, the environment, and the world better places than they are today. Not all these things can be quantified.”

“Who are the people I am really serving? And am I ready to suffer?”

“If we’re going to be authentic in our leadership, we have to be willing to serve, and we have to be willing to suffer.”

“People willingly follow someone who’s attuned to their aspirations, fears, and ideals. Loyalty is not something a boss can demand. It’s something people choose to grant to a person who has earned it.”

“I serve my associates so that they can serve our customers well. Actually, I’m at the bottom of the organizational pyramid supporting them and not at the top with them supporting me.” (Betsy Sanders)

“Without the element of servant leadership, the furthest you will get into someone’s motivation is the ‘have to’ level. Over time, that will build a narrow, thin organization. When a leader is able to drive down deep and get to the ‘I want’ motivation, the organization becomes a type of perpetual motion machine. It no longer takes as much energy from you as a leader because you’ve built into those around you the zeal to do a job well. The ‘sustain’ you’ve tapped in your team will carry all of you, collectively, well into the future.” (Nancy Ortberg)

“Nearly every act of leadership requires suffering—and often for the leader a choice between one’s personal success and safety and the greater welfare of others.”

And my personal favorite…

We guarantee that what people will say about you will not be about what you achieved for yourself but what you achieved for others. Not how big a campfire you built but how well you kept others warm, how well you illuminated the night to make them feel safe, and how beautiful you left the campsite for those who would come after you to build the next fire.

What are your thoughts on these great leadership quotes?

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