‘irreconcilable’ words are combined. This means that a leader has willingly and voluntarily taken the responsibilities associated to a servant. In this, we get a leader not only serving, but prioritizing serving. Giving the difference between leader-first as opposed to servant first Greenleaf argues that a servant leader is a servant first, and a leader second and not the other way round. Thus, in such a high position as this, leaders ought to serve people and this is both a matter of attitude and action. It is indeed a great challenge to portray servant leadership as expected in the entitled leaders. This is because the bar is too high and everybody without apologies expects them to live up to the script. The following are some characteristics of servant leaders ought to portray.
A More Display of Wisdom, Genuine Humility & Service:
I believe the monarchy was introduced for people to have a model to live by. However, to a large extent, human failings made the monarchy lose a great deal of that position. This did not, however, make people not to look at their leaders as models. Not that people expect leaders to be angels, but they do not want devils. In between that level, people still expect leaders who are not perfect, but are able to give them a model to live by. People still look to leaders especially in such exalted position and expect them to portray a model to them.
At such high degree of leadership, leaders are expected to display wisdom accumulated by experience, probably age and wide exposure. In other words, the world count on their wisdom to make pertinent decisions facing them. They are expected to point the way towards alleviation of human misery and suffering, paint a vision that is so compelling to the people that will make them look up in hope rather than down in despair.
George Washington Carver (1864-1945) once gave this immortal truth, “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant to the weak and strong, because some day in life you will have been all of these.” The more a leader rises, the more he or she is supposed to bend downwards to reach those who are down and downtrodden. People expect their leaders to display genuine compassion and humility.
A More Display of Praise, Appreciation & Inspiration:
The theory of stick and sting effect holds that as much as criticism coming from an authority figure stings too much, praise from the same sticks more. The authority figures hold effect on the led. It really stings if they criticize somebody and if they praise it equally sticks. Mary Kay Ash, Founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics said it bluntly, “There are two things people want more than sex and money-recognition and praise.” People are hungry of praise. Hundreds of thousands of people are walking in the street desiring somebody to recognize them and offer them praise. The highest phase and stage in the leadership rank should be where praise is manufactured and distributed to the people.
Entitled leaders should be inspirers, lifting people’s spirits, inspirations, telling the people that they can achieve, invigorating in them words of hope and courage. They should give the people words of inspiration, words that make people aim higher and set their vision to the skies. Leaders in this phase should make people boil with joy and hope that they shall achieve and accomplish what they have set for themselves. They should feed people with words that make people jump out of bed with hope and spring through the day with a smile.
A More Display of Greatness that kisses Goodness:
The most apt summary of public expectation of leaders in this phase is well put by the British premier Gordon Brown to Mandela, “And let us salute not just the greatness of Nelson Mandela, but the goodness of the man too…” Greatness must meet goodness. Do you remember the quality of virtue we talked about in the first stage of leadership-the empty stage? This is what Brown is calling goodness. Therefore, if vision brings greatness to a leader, virtue brings goodness. Greatness alone does not solve people’s problems, and goodness alone is a lame duck. However, when greatness kisses goodness, it works to produce a thoroughly complete leader. And this is what the people expect of their leaders especially as exalted as those who occupy this phase.
How are entitled leaders supposed to behave? The first thing is that such leaders ought to let people entitle them, and refrain from self- entitlement, have nothing to prove or lose, nothing to hide or hold back and, at the same time everything give and gain and, literally, serve people.
Not Self but People-Entitlement
After all coursework, thesis, projects and all academic requirements and all efforts to earn the degree, students deserve their degree. Unlike the degree that is awarded for academic achievements, an honorable degree is given in recognition of something else. Entitlement is like an honorary degree, or an award, not an acquired degree. Leaders are entitled for their efforts. They cannot award themselves that degree. They wait to be recognized and awarded. It is people, not leaders themselves who entitle their leaders.
During the Zhou Dynasty, in the year c.600BC, the Chinese minister of Chu Kingdom, Sun Shu Ao, thundered these immortal words, “The higher my rank, the more humbly I behave. The greater my power, the less I exercise it. The richer my wealth, the more I give away. Thus I avoid, respectively, envy and spite and misery.” This so aptly applies to a leader in the entitlement stage. To avoid envy and spite and misery, entitled leaders should avoid taking his or her position as an entitled leader. Such leaders should always be cognizant to the fact that entitlement is not on their side but on the side of the led that it is given by the people and not acquired by such leaders.
When he was the president, Mandela portrayed how secure he was in his leadership when he had to delegate his duties to his arch-rival and opposition leader, Mongutsu Butelethi. His deputy having also travelled out of the country, Mandela was also to travel out for two days. In a dramatic move, he handed the leadership to the leader of the opposition and went. The power-hungry opposition leader was so humbled by the act that he said he does not want anything wrong to happen while he was acting and the president was away. In other words, he did not want to disappoint the man who had so much trusted him to hand over power to him. And, of course, nothing happened. That act alone silenced and humbled the man when he saw that he could be trusted. From then on, he not only respected Mandela even more, but ceased from criticizing him.
How are entitled leaders supposed to behave before the people? They are supposed to have nothing to prove, nothing to hide and nothing to hold back.
Nothing to prove, Nothing to Lose
One of the greatest characteristics a leader in the entitlement leadership is that he or she should be so secure that he or she cannot and do not attempt to prove anything. Such a leader has been long in public domain and so does not need any proof; hence can neither put a public display, work to prove capability nor even struggle to win acceptance or approval nor show off anything. The security of leadership enjoyed by the occupant makes him or her not to even attempt to put a hindrance or oppress upcoming leaders because they are not a threat anyway. In fact, such a leader rejoices as they see other capable leaders rise to occupy positions of leadership. Indeed, such a leader works to help them rise, mentor them, give them a model of leadership they are supposed to offer and works to develop and sharpen their skills.
Leaving such a position is to give another gifted brain an opportunity to carry on is the greatest pleasure. An entitlement leader will let go his or her leadership position if the situation demands, if he or she still holds one, and do so without reluctance and bitterness. He or she will help the new leader settle in, bless him or her and place his or her experience at his or her disposal. To such a leader, his or her self-esteem is not glued to the leadership post neither is his or her self importance drawn from the post of leadership held (or not held). To him or her, leadership is not a battle to lose or gain, but a service to render.
Nothing to Hide, Nothing to Hold Back
As some leaders find solace only in the cover of darkness, running away from press and the public, an entitled leader leads an open life, open life, open heart, open book and open mind. Not that the press choose to cover the positive side of such a leader, or afraid to cover the dark side, but when they come prying on such a leader’s private life, the only news they get is positive. Such a leader has or finds nothing to hide. Not only does such leader have an open life, he or she also has an open heart. Having developed a culture of openness that does not fear accountants, auditors, probes or any assessment because his or her records are straight and his or her books always open, such a leader does not dread to any accountability but is always open to it. It is lack or absence of accountability that such a leader hates and where there exists no such structures, works to establish them.
One of the positive things some governments in Africa are doing is the establishment of African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). Led by Graca Machel and under the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), and the APRM reviews governments performance thus enforcing accountability structures in those governments.