For the past nine months I have been part of the planning committee for a Christian community event called Free to Worship. The concept was to bring together Christian churches throughout the valley for a half-day event to worship through music. On Saturday, Sept, 19, over 1,000 people of all ages, ethnicities and Christian denominations came together to watch 11 bands perform. It was an amazing day and a lot of work, but very humbling at the same time. It was after everyone had left that I learned a lesson that can be easily applied to many areas of my personal and professional life, especially areas where I am called to lead.
After being at the Clark County Amphitheatre for well over 12 hours, completely exhausted but pleased with the outcome of our efforts, I – along with the other 10 or so people that had worked so hard in the 100 degree-plus Vegas weather – was ready to go home and crawl into the comfort of my own bed when we found out the cleaning crew had left. This was the crew hired to pick up trash, empty all the trash bins and deposit all the garbage into an off-site dumpster, and clean the greenrooms used by the bands – all tasks that had to be completed before we could leave the venue. So, before the high of putting on a successful event could even truly sink in, the realization came that it was up to us to clean the facility. As I was mopping up gooey puddles oozing out of a leaky trash bag left on the greenroom floor, I began to laugh. I realized the best leaders are the ones that serve others. This isn’t a complicated lesson, but it’s hard to understand when our lives are wrapped up in titles, positions and power.
So, what does it mean to lead through service? It’s leading by example and not being afraid to get your hands dirty just because the title on your business card or job description might not imply or include specific tasks. People are more willing to follow a leader who not only lives by example but ultimately strives to provide for the greater good of the group without letting their ego get in the way.
Next June I will become the president of the Las Vegas chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC/Las Vegas). I am excited by the challenge but admittedly scared by the title. I am one of the youngest members of the organization and often wonder how I am going to get these people to follow my lead. I am starting to realize it’s not about getting anyone to follow me, it’s how I can serve my fellow board members and ultimately the members of IABC/Las Vegas. This is such a backwards philosophy to how so many organizations are run, but it feels so right.
What would happen if, in every role we had, big or small, leader or follower, we focused on serving others rather than getting them to follow?
Megan Lane is an Account Executive for Imagine Marketing.
Contact Megan at firstname.lastname@example.org.