Serving as a Foundation to Leadership

Two weeks ago, someone made a social media post about a local food pantry being low on items, especially breakfast foods. Another pantry mentioned being low on diapers. Because people are losing their jobs or having their work hours reduced, many are in need of food, toiletries, and other goods. The numbers keep increasing, at least in my area. I wanted to do something and I wanted to do it quickly because I wasn’t sure if (or when) a shelter-in-place order would pass. Note: My city has now been issued a stay-at-home order. So, I reached out to my co-workers, immediate family members, and some neighbors asking them to consider donating or buying items to contribute to the food pantry. Due to social distancing, I asked them to leave items in my work office or on my front porch and I’d drop them off at the designated place. Needless to say, it was a success! People were incredibly willing to donate what they could and the food pantry was very appreciative. During this time, I had the opportunity to re-learned something that I had been taught decades ago: serving is central to leadership.

Whether you are a part of a leadership program, take a leadership course, or you read about leadership styles, you will come across the importance of serving. We learn about serving in school, in the community, and in our faith traditions, but something happens when we grow up. We get too busy and the act of serving becomes a once a year thing or something that is done during the holidays. Serving allows us to help others, to pour into others, to offer our skills and talents to better our community and world, and it reminds us that there is more to life than what’s on our achievement list. Simply put, serving is leading in every area of one’s life: work, community, self, and home.

There are some families that make volunteering a core mission. There are companies and organizations that build volunteering into their mission and annual calendar and that’s wonderful. However, there are so many people who do not make serving a core area of their lives, usually because it’s the first thing to omit when life gets overwhelming. However, I was quickly reminded that volunteering does not have to be time-consuming, detail oriented, or involve multiple moving parts. It’s more emotional than anything. In less than 72 hours, I put a call out to my community, collected items, and delivered them. I was able to do it because time was of the essence. So, if you are wanting to improve your leadership skills (i.e. take more initiative) and help others, serving is a wonderful call.

Therefore, in the midst of COVID-19, see where you can be of use to your community, your co-workers, and/or your family. Social distancing has limited our abilities to do much, but it hasn’t caused all services to be canceled. Look for opportunities to serve and see if you can get others involved. Some suggestions include:

  1. Dropping off food or gift cards to food pantries;
  2. Calling seniors and talking to them or reading to them over the phone;
  3. Buying and mailing needed items to your local hospital;
  4. Checking in on your co-workers, faith members, or community members during this time. Hearing someone’s voice is essential during a pandemic.
  5. Donating food or school supplies to local schools. They are still giving out items to families in need.

Leadership, regardless of the venue, is as much about doing for others than anything else. Use this time to make serving a regular part of your life and the lives of others.

Stay safe and keep leading,


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