The ego-driven madness we are seeing in the US House of Representatives is a classic example of leaders who are not transparent (or even fully aware) of what they are in service to. When we are blinded by ambition, rage or narcissism it can be hard to fully understand that our actions serve those short-term emotions rather than our ultimate goals. Service Leaders know it is easy for a specific action or behaviour to become all-consuming and we must continuously look at our why.
The simple act of asking ‘what am I REALLY in service to’ when we make decisions or take actions is a powerful way for each of us to really understand what is driving our behaviour. It can be a quick, easy and totally appropriate answer that doesn’t surprise us. Other times — especially when we are being honest with our answer — it can be a stop-in-my-tracks awakening to why I am feeling or acting the way I am. For example, where I started out to serve the long term needs of my team, I am now really in service to the needs of my ego. These are the moments where Service Leaders can acknowledge and correct the misalignment between our actions and goals.
More importantly and more powerfully, this same check-in works when we are confused, hurt or infuriated by the behaviours of others. Before flying off the handle and immediately dismissing someone or their ideas, Service Leaders take a beat to focus on solution finding, intentionally draw on their patience and take time to explore what we think that person is truly being in service to. Ideally, we put the question to others directly, not to change their minds but better understand their needs and motivations. Too often, without really exploring what they are in service to, we let others’ decisions become a personal attack or threat to our values. Elsie’s wise words of “It’s Not About Me” allow us to understand the why behind someone’s actions. Equally important they become an opportunity to better understand the motivations of others and find ways to build connection.
It is an honourable and courageous thing to run for office. We owe those who serve as elected officials our support and appreciation. AND, the best gift that our politicians can give themselves and those they want to serve is an honest conversation about what it is they are really in service to.