“Diegran McCann, Mayor of Portsmouth,” said the Mayor of Portsmouth earlier in the year when he took office on his Facebook page. You could think of it as just a choice of words, but it could mean something more. Instead of using the title “mayor” before his name, Deaglan is the conscious mindset that it happens to be the title he holds and he realizes it’s the mayor. A job where he should be a leader for others. He is not “of” others, but with others.
I first learned the concept of “Servant Leadership” as a member of a Leadership Seacoast class in the 1990s. The organization immerses people involved in businesses, organizations, and governments in a variety of issues, taking them out of their comfort zone and encouraging them to think critically about how they interact with others.
This column does not provide a definitive explanation of what servant leadership is or means. There is a lot of information online, including examples of leaders demonstrating the principle.
Summarize Servant Leadership as a philosophy in which the goal is to serve others rather than oneself. Servant leaders put the needs of others first, share leadership with others, and leverage all their talents for the sake of all success. Servant leaders teach and mentor others, share tasks, and set aside egos and personal ambitions to enable others to excel.
Leadership During a Seacoast class discussion, we extrapolated the notion of a leader servant as we know it. I’ll give you an example of people I know. Readers of this column may recognize some of them.
Eileen Foley. Irene served as Mayor of Portsmouth from the 1970s to the 1990s. She worked tirelessly to help people. She was more in the City Hall office than any elected leader I know and helped with even the tiniest of issues. At a time when the Portsmouth Navy Yard may be closed, we hope she will travel to Boston and elsewhere to speak to members of Congress and military staff, and the unfailing energy to keep it going. I saw it. Not for myself, but for others. Guide with compassion.
Bob Lister. Mayor and Deputy Mayor, but more than that. He served as a special education teacher in his 1970s and eventually became the school superintendent. He sought to serve the people, and he still does so to this day. As mayor, he did not take the initiative by his orders. He entered the debate only when he felt his thoughts were needed. He sparked debate among the members of the council, encouraging them to lead discussions and participate in the decision-making process. Lead by example.
Bill Gardner. Since 1972, I have watched Bill grow into the position of Secretary of State for New Hampshire. He has held the position longer than anyone else during his 46 years. But it wasn’t a title for him. it was work. I know he refused many honors and recognition because he didn’t want his position to be about himself.He managed a staff of about 100 and did well I shared my work credits with them. When the corporate arm of SOS performed particularly well, the story was about them, not Bill his Gardner. It’s the same when archives, vital records, elections, or the securities department excelled. He chose good people, coached them well, and did not micromanage them, so that the Secretary of State continues to provide excellent service after his retirement.
All leaders are temporary. People who have done their job well in a limited amount of time may be best remembered when they share leadership tasks with others and get the job done. Our government will be better off at every level if more of those who elect to serve will learn the principles of servant leadership. Not for us.
Quote of the Day: “A servant can be a leader only if the leader remains a servant.”
– Robert K. Greenleaf, who popularized the term “Servant Leadership”.
“If you don’t care who gets credit, it’s amazing what you can accomplish.”
– President Harry S. Truman. Often quoted by friends who wished to remain anonymous.
Next time: Perth Island in 2123.
Since 1969, Jim Splen has served in various positions as Assistant Mayor of Portsmouth, Police Commissioner, School Commissioner, New Hampshire Senator and Representative. His contact is he email@example.com.