COMMENTARY 889.5: The Parable of Brother Leo

by Michael Josephson on July 24, 2014

in Leadership, Service

An old legend tells of a monastery in France well-known throughout Europe because of the extraordinary leadership of a man known only as Brother Leo. Several monks began a pilgrimage to visit Brother Leo to learn from him. Almost immediately the monks began to bicker over who should do various chores.

On the third day they met another monk who was also going to the monastery and he joined their party. This monk never complained or shirked a duty, and whenever the others fought over a chore, he would gracefully volunteer and simply do it himself. By the last day the other monks were following his example, and they worked together smoothly.

When they reached the monastery and asked to see Brother Leo, the man who greeted them laughed: “But our brother is among you!” And he pointed to the fellow who had joined them late in the trip.

Today, many people seek leadership positions not so much for what they can do for others, but for what the position can do for them: status, connections, perks or future advantage. As a result, they do service primarily as an investment, a way to build an impressive resume.

The parable about Brother Leo teaches another model of leadership, where leaders are preoccupied with serving rather than being followed, with giving rather than getting, and doing rather than demanding. It’s a form of leadership based on example, not command. It’s called servant leadership.

Can you imagine how much better things would be if more politicians, educators and business executives saw themselves as servant leaders?

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Sally Scheib July 25, 2014 at 9:57 am

I love the story of Brother Leo. Unfortunately, too many people see themselves as servant leaders, but when work needs to be done they delegate in the name of leadership.

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