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Mark Cole: How Can You Serve and Lead at the Same Time?

By Mark Cole | January 11, 2019
Mark Cole: How Can You Serve and Lead at the Same Time?

When you think of servanthood, what comes to mind?

Do you envision a person at the bottom of the totem pole performing a so-called “menial” task for someone else’s benefit?

If so, then you have the wrong impression. Servanthood is not about position or skill.

Servanthood is about attitude.

We’ve all encountered people in service positions with poor attitudes toward servanthood: the rude worker at the government agency, the waiter who can’t be bothered with taking your order, the store clerk who talks on the phone with a friend instead of helping you.

Just as you can sense when a worker doesn’t want to help people, you can easily detect whether someone has a servant’s heart. When you encounter a worker who has the attitude of a servant leader, everything changes.

The best leaders desire to serve others, not themselves. In the end, the extent of your influence and the quality of your relationships depends on the depth of your care for others.

That’s why it is so important for leaders to be willing to serve.

So with that in mind, I’d like to serve you and your leadership by offering you three habits that will help you become a servant leader:

1. Perform small acts of kindness.

As leader, it’s easy to get busy and forget about the people around us. When was the last time you performed small acts of kindness for others?

Start with those closest to you. Find ways today to do small things that show other people you care. You’ll be blown away by the positive impact even the smallest act of kindness can have on someone.

2. Learn to walk slowly through the crowd.

I learned this great lesson from John Maxwell. The next time you attend a function with a number of clients, colleagues, or employees, make it your goal to connect with others by circulating among them slowly.

Focus on each person you meet. Learn names if you don’t know them already. Make your agenda getting to know each person’s needs, wants and desires.

Spending time with people creates not only the desire to serve them, but the connection and know-how to serve them well.

3. Move into action.

If an attitude of servanthood is conspicuously absent from your life, the best way to change it is to start serving. Feelings will follow footsteps—if you’ll begin serving with your body, your heart will eventually catch up! Then, keep at it until your heart desires to serve others well.


Albert Schweitzer wisely stated, “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: The ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”

If you want to be successful on the highest level, be willing to serve on the lowest. That’s the best way to build relationships—and your leadership!

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