A chilly rain was falling on our Instructing Team as they loaded the vehicle early this morning. As I watched them ferrying food and gear, I thought about what an amazing thing it was that in spite of the absolutely dreary tone set by the conditions outside, Jon and Jesse were there to serve, there to shepherd a group of students towards growth as leaders, and there to put hands and feet to AML's mission of fostering and inspiring servant leadership.
Perhaps it struck me in such a way because as they departed in the wind and rain I was about to return to the lamplight of my desk and prepare to send out our monthly newsletter, answer emails, and work on curriculum for upcoming courses- all in a climate controlled office.
I can't help but think about the way our instructors in this moment exemplify an important principal of servant leadership... the ability to lead in foul weather. In this specific instance, I am referring to actual foul weather- wind, rain, chill. But beyond this instance, in the metaphorical sense, I am referring to leadership circumstances that are less than ideal... which covers such a wide range of circumstances. Foul weather circumstances can be found where social dynamics have deteriorated, where resources have become scarce, where unforeseen challenges surface quickly, where forces outside of your group collide with your group's process, and any number of the ways group dynamics can bend and twist into uncomfortable circumstances.
A servant leader is particularly shaped to be effective in these foul weather circumstances. Servant leaders view these situations as opportunities. Some leaders may find themselves being self conscious about the group's image and performance, fixated on controlling in times of foul weather. A servant leader, however, isn't there for their own sake. They are free to stand back and strategize about how best to utilize the circumstances for the benefit of the group's growth and maturity.
It is inevitable that in the life span of any group, foul weather seasons will occur. And it is important that the group's leadership, particularly in those times, has the genuine interest of others in their sights.
Oh, would you look at that! The sun has come out...