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Servant leadership – Advice to our leaders

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Fri Apr 11, 2013

With so much discussion these days on the question of leadership, in all its multiple fields, it may be useful for us to share with our readers, and in turn for them to reflect on an important contribution made to the discussion by a very outstanding Caribbean son.{{more}}

He is none other than Courtney Walsh, not only the Caribbean’s highest wicket-taker in Test cricket, but himself a leader of the Caribbean nation, having led the West Indies team in 22 Tests and 43 One-day Internationals in the troubling times of 1994/97 as the decline in Caribbean cricket fortunes began to set in.

Walsh was at the time delivering the keynote address at the 15th annual Sports Desk Leadership Symposium in Port-of-Spain on Monday of this week, on the theme “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Interestingly, the former cricket captain situated his address in the context of the Lenten season, so dear to the Christian community in the Caribbean. His words provided much food for thought for his audience and are very relevant to the ongoing exchanges on the topic.

He began by defining leadership as being “about vision and the art of getting colleagues around this vision,” admitting that though this would seem impossible, “it would always seem impossible until it’s done.” Walsh used the lessons of the Lenten season to focus on what he called “servant leadership”. Saying it was the type he practised when at the helm of West Indies cricket, he told his listeners that this type of leadership both emphasized the role of the leaders, whilst encouraging them to serve others while staying focused on achieving results in line with the theme of organizations, values and integrity.

“A servant leader looks to the needs of the people and asks himself how he can help them solve problems and promote personal development, places his main focus on people because only contented and motivated people will be able to reach their targets and be able to fulfill set expectations,” the ex-skipper said. He went on to explain, in the spirit of Jesus Christ, that, “…… for great servant leaders, our vision has to be far more than just the material things in life. I have found that when we focus on leading for the greater good, the material things will come. Your purpose as leaders must be a blessing to society.”

As we enter into the Christian Holy Week next week, Courtney Walsh’s message of humility is rooted firmly in the traditions of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a timely reminder to our leaders, whether in the political, religious or social field, what true leadership should mean and the necessity for leaders to seek to serve, rather than rule or dictate, to anchor their visions firmly in the context of lifting up those they lead, so that they can be that “blessing to society.”

It is a message that we highly recommend to all, leaders and followers alike, as we prepare to commemorate the death and resurrection of the Most Humble of us all.

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