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The word ‘leadership’, can mean different things to different people. When leadership is mentioned, it seems to automatically allow us to form an opinion that the leader is confident, has our welfare at heart and that we will be kept safe.

However, there are many types of people in leadership positions.  There are some who are incompetent or do not have your best interests at heart –they are pretenders, job-hunters, position-conscious or just promise results. Basically, they are in that position for their own gain. Yes, they may produce some good financial and innovative results, but they tend not to build team spirit and the trust that teams or individuals need.  You don’t want to be that kind of leader.

Leadership is not necessarily linked to a position. Anyone can be a leader in any place, at any time. Leaders are all around us and play different roles in our lives. They could be teachers, parents, executives, coaches, judges, business owners, sporting team captains or politicians, to name a few.

I believe the best form of leadership is something called ‘servant leadership’. Servant leadership, is about helping and serving others. It is about ensuring family members or team members are achieving what they need as individuals within the greater goal of the leader.

In short, servant leaders, help others get what they want so that the leader can get all he or she wants. Everybody wins.

John Wooden (America’s most successful college basketball coach) defined who a servant leader is:

“Who shall be first among you, shall be your servant. Who puts focus on followers and makes their dreams come true. Who does not say ‘get going’ – and says ‘let’s go’ and leads the way. Who glorifies team spirit and duplicates this in others. Who helps others grow big, because the bigger and better the team – the better they all are. Who has faith in people, who believes in them, and trusts them, who has a sense of humour, who is interested in finding the best way. Who looks for lofty goals and extends the skills and talents and legacy of all the team.”

Servant leaders are dealers in hope. They help people to see themselves better than they believe they are or can become. Leaders should aim to be lighthouses, someone people can look to for guidance and can set their sail by them. Leaders show people what they stand for and can be a beacon to others.

Leadership is a tremendous responsibility. It’s really important to take care of those that you lead and not take that position for granted. A sign of a good leader and its highest reward – lies in knowing that others can achieve their own purpose and meaning – under your leadership.

Servant leadership is a gift which encompasses:

  • Privilege to serve
  • Responsibility and accountability for decisions made and behaviour displayed
  • Opportunity to lead family and teams to a better place

What are the qualities of a good servant leader?

  • Humility
  • Ambition (the desire to achieve in the service of others – not at the expense of others)
  • Character – loyalty, excellence, confidence, resilience, determination, compassion, honesty, kindness, generosity, creativity and confidence
  • Empathy – they listen to and understand each person in the family or team
  • Integrity – the way they live and act reflects precisely what they say. They are authentic.
  • Patience
  • Wisdom
  • Integrity
  • Time for you

Above all, leaders should be mindful that they have influence over others by the way they talk (their tone and their manner), the language they use, the values they display (as they are always being watched by others), the way they behave in all circumstances, the way they value and respect their team, customers and community and the way they pull from the front and say “let’s go” and set the pace.

It’s such an important time in history, where over the next century, we have the opportunity and need to heal division, reduce confusion, overcome despair with hope, and replace ego with character.

To do this we need leadership where:

  • Human capital overrides financial capital – people are your greatest asset
  • Emotional intelligence (relationships) overrides economic competence
  • Networks override hierarchies
  • Collaboration overrides control
  • Meaning and purpose override structures and spreadsheets
  • Leaders and building teams override followers and victimhood
  • Hope replaces fear
  • Responsibility & accountability replace entitlement

Our children and youth are the leaders of tomorrow, we (parents and guardians) can help them be prepared to lead by teaching them lessons in leadership, which include:

  • Increasing their confidence and self-esteem and building their resilience. Life is hard, unfair and we fail. However, adversity is part of life and resilience grows through adversity. We can overcome the difficulties we face.
  • Explaining the difference between a hero, a victim and an entitlement mindset
  • Helping them to determine the purpose and a meaning to their life
  • Assuring them they were born to be great
  • Weaving into their nature that they are the authors of their lives – and are responsible for their choices and behaviour

It’s so important children feel like the pilot of their lives, not the passenger. Here’s some ways to help them become a leader in their life rather than a follower:

  • Let the (technology-free) kitchen table be the centre of their growth in all parts of their life and encourage activities, debate, discussion and questions in this space.
  • Give them your time and focus completely on them.
  • Be the example of the person you wish them to be – in your language, your associations and your activities
  • Listen and understand – give them a voice.
  • Discipline them by setting guidelines and boundaries. Be clear and consistent, so that they know what you will and will not tolerate.
  • Be honest with them and display this honesty in your own life – your children are always watching and listening.
  • Help them make wise and rational decisions.
  • Take the place of the TV and the smartphone – the overuse of these will kill your relationship over time.

Good or bad habits are being formed continually. So, be careful with your ideas – because your ideas become their actions. Be careful of your actions, because actions become their habits. Be careful of your habits, because your habits -become their character. And your character – becomes their destiny.

Who they become, will be in large part – due to you. So, don’t forget to remind them of their greatness and potential, and remember your own commitment to help them become all they can be;

  • Let others lead small lives – but not them.
  • Let others argue over small things – but not them.
  • Let others cry over small hurts – but not them.
  • Let others leave their futures in someone else’s hands – but not them.

 Consider Robert Kennedy’s words: “Few will have the greatness to bend history; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of these acts will be written in the history of a generation.”

We were each born to be the best of which we are capable and to help others (especially our children) live their own greatness.


  • Mario Calanna

    Mario Calanna is an author, speaker and health authority. He is a well-known and respected pharmacist and owner of the Calanna Whole Health Pharmacy chain. He is also one of the people behind the Junior Speaking Contest which has run since 1978. Find out more about Mario Calanna and the Junior Speaking Contest