So, You Want To Be In Management…

Why? That’s the first question I ask. If you have as a reason personal ambition, I would tell you to get real and go take a running jump, we don’t need such self-seeking people in management. Well do I recall the day when, while I was still in Active Service, I happened to meet two cadets waiting to be interviewed to be Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) scholars. I remember asking them why they wanted to join the SAF, and being utterly incensed by their reply, “The SAF is a good stepping stone to a second career.” I remember telling them point blank that we didn’t need people such as themselves, and then I had to go for my own meeting.

American IndianWe need to realize, and realize deeply, that when we assume leadership positions, all we are doing is stepping into the shoes of stewards. Stewards don’t own anything, but stewards take care of everything. Most leadership frameworks that I know of at least allude to servant leadership in some way, with the exception of Robert Greenleaf’s rather obvious “Servant Leadership”, of course. It is no wonder that many leaders fail, since they have failed to understand that all leadership is actually stewardship, which means leaders are actually glorified servants. We don’t lord it over our people, we serve them. We develop them to become greater than who we are. We encourage their growth. We encourage them to take risks, knowing at the back of our minds that any negative consequences that might result would actually be manageable. In other words, we always set our people up for success, but know that, should they fail, it wouldn’t be that bad. We don’t tell our people so explicitly, of course! As leaders, we know when to step out of the way or die so others can take our place. Stories about the Arapaho Indians tell of older warriors “staking themselves out” when hunting buffalo or when engaged in wars with other tribes. I don’t approve of such practices, but I admire the self-sacrificial spirit behind them.

That’s the only reason you should want to be in management. To serve others. All else will fall in place.

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