Giving the Gift of Servant Leadership, Two of Four

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Vignette Two of Four


… I would like to venture outside of the realm of what you would typically find on our blog. Today, I’ll be recounting a potent story of servant leadership that is from outside the realm of adventure programming or harrowing expeditions. What follows is a brief but powerful story of someone using their influence for the benefit of others.


In 1987, Princess Diana was on sight at London Middlesex Hospital to open the first purpose built HIV/Aids unit in all of the UK. Given her track record of humanitarian and philanthropic work, it wasn’t all that surprising that Princess Diana was supportive of forward-looking medical care for those in need. She did, however, do something surprising during her visit- something that captured the attention of the world. She was photographed shaking the hand of a patient without a glove.

To understand the impact and compassionate nature of this act, you have to understand the public perception of HIV/Aids at that time. Though the medical community knew that HIV/Aids was not transmittable through touch (confirmed by the CDC in 1983), misinformation and miseducation had left the general public seized with fear of contracting the virus simply by touching someone with the virus. This perception left many with the disease to be ostracized and cut off from their families and communities… alone and suffering from a painful and disorienting virus.

With Princess Diana’s compassionate act, the world was invited to deal with the fact that the virus was not a legitimate justification to sever contact with another human being. As one of the nurses at the hospital said, "If a royal was allowed to go in and shake a patient's hands, somebody at the bus stop or the supermarket could do the same."

So what does this story have to do with servant leadership? Leadership is about stewarding the influence we have. This is a story about someone choosing to use their considerable influence to liberate people from isolation and welcome them into fellowship- and to encourage others to do so as well. It is a story about someone cutting across the grain in order to lead out of truth and through compassion.

It’s difficult to not think of the seasonal appropriateness of this message… the story of an individual breaking into a culture in order to liberate and to lead people through truth.


Each remaining week of 2018, we will be presenting a short vignette which illuminates the importance and impact of servant leadership. We hope these reflections are gifts that display the potential of great leadership.

We would also like to invite you to give the gift of servant leadership throughout the end of this year. A great way to do this is by partnering with us here at AML. It will help us meet our year end financial goals- goals which allow us to most effectively strive towards our mission.