We Can All Be Servant-Leaders
The motto of the Alabama State Bar is "Lawyers Render Service/There are two sides to this: the service which the bar should render to its members and the public, and the service which all of us as lawyers should render to our clients, our profession and our communities. The focus of this article is on this second type of service and how it can be accomplished through always striving to act as servant-leaders.
There is a need for good leaders. Lawyers are uniquely situated to fulfill this need, whether it be through their work as judges, policy-makers, legal practitioners, business owners, government officials, politicians, scholars and teachers, or through involvement with churches and charitable organizations. To me, professionalism includes not only how lawyers treat each other, but also our impact on the community as a whole. We can influence the bar and the future of our state by taking on leadership roles and serving well in those roles.
What is leadership and what does it mean to be a good leader? Dictionaries are not much help. They define a leader as a person who leads and leadership as the office or position of a leader. To compensate for these circular definitions, dictionaries resort to providing examples of leaders (e.g. political leaders, orchestra conductors, military leaders, etc.). It appears as though dictionaries have the same problem the rest of us have when it comes to defining leadership-we know it when we see it.
I learned the term "servant-leadership" through my involvement with the ASB as a bar commissioner and committee member. This concept, which is part of the curriculum for the ASB's award-winning Leadership Forum, actually encompasses much of what I have experienced over the years. Talking about leadership as a type of servitude simply provides a framework for understanding which character traits contribute to good leadership. Forum participants are taught that servant-leaders recognize the value of sharing power and helping others develop and perform to the best of their ability, and they are...