Living Your Transformation as a Servant Leader

Transformation is a process, and as life happens there are tons of ups and downs. It’s a journey of discovery—there are moments on mountaintops and moments in deep valleys of despair.
—Rick Warren

Transformation is a change in form, appearance, nature, or character. The self-help industry in America (books, audiobooks, videos, seminars and coaches) is over a billion-dollar industry, which tells us we all have a great desire to change who we are. Most of us have a desire to serve others, but that desire has been buried deep within us because of life’s pressures; part of our transformation involves helping that desire to serve come out.

You have already made the decision to be a better leader. You’ve invested in yourself. You’ve read books, you’ve likely talked to mentors and coaches, you’ve learned from others as well as your own experiences and through the behaviors of servant leadership, and now it’s time to let that investment out, day to day, with everyone you come into contact with.

A word of caution, it isn’t that difficult to live your transformation with those you like as individuals, or others who share the same values and who desire to live their lives for the sake of others. It is a real challenge, however, to live your transformation with those you may not get along with or who may not share your values or your desire to help and serve others.

When I teach others about living their transformation, I share the story of walking down a hallway at work and seeing someone at the other end walking toward me. That person is one I know who, given the chance, will stop and tell me everything that is wrong with the company and its leaders, and why the current project or program has no chance of being successful. You know—those who have nothing positive to say. When I see that individual walking toward me, I want to take a detour into a side office so I can avoid the conversation.

That’s not quite living my transformation, is it? If I am serious about being a servant leader and living my transformation, I will stop and say “Hi,” ask how they are doing, and either talk to them for a few minutes if I can, or say “I would love to talk to you, but I can’t until a later time.”

Living your transformation takes discipline and courage to stay the course.

You’re not going to be perfect; you will make mistakes. Transformation takes time, but if you strive for excellence and not perfection, I know you can do it. Your life will definitely be better because of it.

When I visualize living my transformation, I think about an individual on our leadership team who I’m not in sync with. We may not agree on how the purpose of the company should be executed, or our personalities may conflict (we may be too much alike).

There are no excuses for leaders to take a break from behaving appropriately; in accordance with our values. So I think about this person and what I need to do as his or her leader to improve the relationship. It’s my responsibility to ensure my behavior aligns with my talk.

That being said, none of us are perfect and you will fall short at times, not behaving in the correct manner. I have learned three important lessons when I fail to live my own transformation:

  • Don’t beat yourself up for falling short, no one is perfect.
  • Learn from your mistakes and reflect on ways to improve your own behavior.
  • Most importantly, apologize for your behavior to those around you.

Keep at it, live your life for the sake of others and push through your mistakes. You’ll be glad you didn’t give up.

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