SAVIOR OR SERVANT?
By Mark McCuen, THE CORPORATE CHRISTIAN, Scottsdale, Arizona
Ask yourself… At work, are you a Savior? Or, do you believe you are more of a Servant? What would your boss say? How about your co-workers? What is their perception of your role, and, more importantly, your accomplishments?
This one, simple answer may be the key to a happy, prosperous and long career. Before we talk about you, let’s look at corporate life in general. Are there really Saviors and Servants where you work?
You see the same people every day. The workers and the bosses. The dreamers, the followers, and the leaders. What sets them apart? Everyone needs a job, right? Well, at least most of us do. Typically, most start on the bottom of the pyramid, beginning as workers at one level or another, even in the executive wing.
Although the view from the trenches might not show it, like most employee groups, executives have a “pecking” order… Just like all work groups. The newbies are typically overworked by those with more experience and tenure. With executives, typically, the junior staff does most of the day-to-day “work” while others set the vision or path for the company. Then there are those who hold ALL accountable. Not just the other bosses, but all other groups as well. Occasionally, things go askew and the people who are supposed to be defining the future, are watching accountability. Much like a runner staring at their shoelaces, they’re bound to trip.
As in most organizations, the 80/20 rule is in full swing for the executives, as it is in the rest of the company. Simply stated, 80% of the work is done by 20% of the workers. Oft times, in the executive wing, it’s the folks at the very top that tend to be the big producers and carrying the biggest load. Albeit that most management experts would suggest a structure built on delegation, not doing the job entirely by yourself. In my opinion, the biggest problem with the owners, CEO’s and leaders doing the bulk of the work is that while it makes life easy for some, it is not a duplicable process. Not unless they perfect the cloning of people process sometime soon. The adage “You can’t be in two places at the same time” is as prevalent today as it has always been.
Executives that can not be duplicated in their work and management practices cannot replace themselves, severely limiting their ability to grow the company. This happens a lot in entrepreneurial or “startup” companies, where the entrepreneur simply cannot let go of practices and processes. While not malicious on their part, the entrepreneur’s instinctive “hands on approach” inescapably strangles the evolution of the company. Typically, seen as a “micro-manager”, the entrepreneur becomes an funnel for all pertinent company decisions – choking creativity and growth.
You might be thinking “What about everyone else? What are they doing?” Sadly, a lot are just getting by. Some are confused as to what to do; and most are doing the same thing they did yesterday, only expecting different results. This truly represents “Corporate Insanity.” In my experience, almost everyone has one common attribute: They are focused on themselves. The runner staring at their shoelaces comes to mind.
That’s right. The workers and the bosses, the dreamers, the followers and even the leaders seem to always be thinking about what they are doing – – wondering if that shoe lace is tight enough. This unintentional lack of a Corporate Focus leads a potentially great company, with one hundred employees, to move in a hundred different directions. You can only imagine the chaos this structure would bring to a corporation with tens of thousands of workers: Pandemonium to the nth degree!
Inevitably, in rides the “Savior” on their white horse. What do they do? Some reset everything, thinking the best way to end chaos is with more chaos. Others get down to the “nitty-gritty”. Examining every action and process while dragging the company through untold assessments and investigations. Typically resulting in new structure and process that breeds even more chaos. Still, with everyone watching their shoelaces, nothing moves forward.
In my time in Corporate Life, it has been my pleasure to work with a couple of true “Saviors”. Leaders that understood that in order to be a leader, first you must be a follower; to be a master, first, you must be a Servant.
As our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus, taught us, it is only as Servants that we truly save one another. Taking our eyes off our shoe laces and instead, keeping our eye on our brother, and their needs. Helping others to succeed is how we succeed, and it is there that we find God, and His purpose for our lives.
One of my favorite stories is about the man who was able to visit Heaven and Hell during a “near death” experience. Recounting the event to a friend, he described Hell as a beautiful place with fruit trees everywhere providing fresh fruit for all. Fruit of all kinds covered the ground.
“However,” he went on say. “Everyone I saw in Hell had no elbows. While they could pick up the fruit. They could not get it in their mouths.” He told his friend how frustrated, sad and hungry everyone looked. Truly, Hell was spending eternity wanting the unattainable.
The man’s friend enthusiastically asked about Heaven. After all, if Hell was so beautiful, Heaven must have been even greater. “That was the surprise.” The man went on to say. “Heaven and Hell were identical. Both were beautiful, filled with fruit trees as far as the eye could see and fruit covered the ground.”
“What about the people?” his friend asked. “Surely they all had elbows?”
“No.” The man explained. “Everything was identical. The people had no elbows. In, fact, the only difference was that the people in Heaven were picking up the fruit and feeding each other. Everyone was full of Joy and full of fruit.” Being a servant first, ensures that all are fed.
In my experience, the great “saviors” have been the ones that serve the needs of others and not themselves. The ones that not only ask the question, “What can I do to help?” but actually listen to the needs and then work to implement plans to meet those needs.
In my marketing roles, we always referred to this as “needs based” Marketing. This should not be confused with the practice of “The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few.” Instead, companies that focus on the individual’s needs, inside the company as well as with their customers outside, are the companies that truly prosper.
Following the “Love your brother as Yourself” direction from Jesus, many Christian believers take the approach “Treat others as I want to be treated” as sound, scriptural practice. Instead, it is my belief that scripture tells us to “Treat others as THEY want to be treated”! This allows us to see things from other’s perspectives and work to meet those needs, and to truly become a servant, inside and outside, of the company.
Always Love! ─ Love God, Love People!