The word paradigm is interesting. The word essentially means model. A model perhaps for guiding behavior. So what is your paradigm? What model do you follow?
When I ask this question, many will respond with, huh? Others will respond with a religious figure or a contemporary leader that has created a paradigm for healthy living. I supposed that is good, and much better than not having one. However, a paradigm is not a person. Even if you were to say, my model is to follow Jesus – that is really not enough. The name of a person does not take you to the most important step, which is actually changing the way you interact with the world based on this paradigm.
I am seriously considering the “servant leadership” paradigm. There are many companies that follow this paradigm. The origins are from an individual named Robert Greenleaf. He died in 1990, but you can read his bio here: https://www.greenleaf.org/about-us/robert-k-greenleaf-biography/. There is a institute that maintains his concept behind servant leadership. When he retired from AT&T he started writing and in 1970, wrote an essay on this topic. It was a bit of a revolution. Some of the most famous business people in the world, the likes of Peter Drucker, picked up on his concept and it became a mission to build a framework to change how companies were led. Southwest Airlines, Starbucks and Marriott are probably the three most notable examples of successful companies that followed this paradigm.
I am in the process of reading and really thinking about Greenleaf’s original essay. The part to focus on right now are the 10 characteristics of what he called a servant leader. Those are:
Commitment to the Growth of People
Daunting is the fact that I probably fail in everyone of these categories!
Greenleaf emphasized that a leader is only truly able to lead people if that person is first a servant. The last shall be first motif. As he wrote, the leader is a servant “deep down inside” and consequently real leadership is bestowed on the person that first learns to serve. This is the default response of all great leaders – first to serve.
Clearly, I am not a natural born leader if this is the standard. My default response is to focus on my own problems and tend to be oblivious of others at times. This is not my desire. I want to help others and frequently do, but it is not my default response.
So the question is can you choose your paradigm, or perhaps even change it? Can you influence your default response? If you spent time on this, and really worked at it, could you become a servant leader? Could you first seek to serve others before you serve yourself? Instead of just saying, I believe in X, or I follow Y is it possible to adapt a paradigm that causes you to actually practice what you believe?
Great question and I am not sure I have the answer. Maybe I will give it a shot and see what happens!