If I were to highlight one of my favourite and preferred traits from the world of Social / Open Business and the single one that perhaps makes it all worth while the effort and energy spent on already, it would be that one from a concept that’s been out there for a while, since 1970, to be more precise, and which has been truly inspirational to me in terms of how I have lived Social Networking all along, ever since I first bumped into it a few years back. I have blogged about it several times as well and I guess today’s blog post is not going to be the last one either, I am sure. Of course, I am talking about Servant Leadership and its inherent nature of having a purpose to serve.
Robert K Greenleaf first coined “Servant Leadership” in a 1970 essay and defined it as follows:
“The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.” “The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?“
Now, if you look into it and start digging deeper, way beyond the social media marketing / vendor funnels and what not, you would notice how the Social Web aims pretty much at the very same goal: “that natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first“, to help out others in need, essentially. Yes, once again, it’s all about the givers. It’s always been about the givers.
The truly fascinating thing is that more and more we keep coming up with wonderfully inspiring examples of what servant leaders are all about in this Digital Age and we get to find out, and experience!, their true leadership. They are very conscious of their purpose to serve others. They are naturally open to share their knowledge, to collaborate, to help others learn about their own environment, their own contexts, their own selves. Essentially, through the use of these digital tools they lead by example in demonstrating actively the huge potential and impact of the Social Web in each and everyone of us in our society. Never mind in a work environment.
Take a look into Commander Chris Hadfield, for instance, as one of my favourite examples as of late of what servant leaders are all about. It probably doesn’t get any better than this, that is, him performing a Space Oddity cover (Click here to listen to David Bowie’s original track in Spotify, if you would be interested) where he gets to share with us a glimpse of the world from high above, a glimpse of what it is like being part of our collective human history:
I know, and fully realise, how plenty of people out there would be saying that this is just another cool video / cover of a brilliant track. Not much of a merit on that one. Well, yes, it may well be just another video clip, but how many video clips do you get to watch during the course of your lifetime where an astronaut is playing music and singing beautifully from out of space sharing that strong purpose to serve across the world reminding us why we are here on Earth in the first place? Well, to make a difference. And he certainly has!
But it gets better, because of the course of the weekend, and while doing some casual catchup reading, I bumped into this interview he gave after he returned back to Earth. And it’s probably one of the most inspiring, thought-provoking and delightful interviews you may be watching this year:
The interview lasts for a bit over 11 minutes and it’s worth every second in terms of what it is like being an astronaut in today’s Digital Age and the kind of impact personal experiences can have when you make use of those digital tools to reach out to people, engage with them, share and show them how there are plenty of powerful ways of how you can impact people’s lives, if you set your purpose to it. His description of how he uses social media tools (From minute 5:15 onwards) is just brilliant in terms of one single key message that I took out of it: sharing the experience.
Yes, indeed, that’s what all of these digital tools are all about, i.e. connect with others who share our very same passions and share the experiences, and, as a result of it, create some more magic. Yes, when I grow up, I, too, want to become an astronaut.
Actually, a servant leader, digital astronaut.