Horst Schultze mesmerized the 2015 Global Leadership Summit attendees in August and continues to do so as the GLS unfolds around the world. What made his message so captivating? There were many factors – some obvious and others less so…

Horst has a proven track record. Academics have their place in our world, but practitioners often garner a different type of respect. Horst’s message was not about theory; rather, it was about practice. He talked about ideas that work; leaders like that.

Horst also spoke with the moral authority of a leader who personally walks the talk. I’ve known Horst for many years; he has challenged our entire organization to rise above our competition. He is willing to show us the way through his actions, not just his words – that’s real integrity. Leaders like that also.

What was less obvious to some was what Horst didn’t say: authentic, unconditional service connects with people at a deep, personal, often emotional level. It resonates with their soul—even if they don’t know why.

When we build organizations, including churches, with service as one of our highest values, we are following Christ’s admonition to be His imitators. Jesus’ life and ministry was devoted to serving people.

People often comment on the lack of service in our world today. Some would even conclude that service is counter-cultural. Think about how often you experience remarkable service. Unfortunately, it is probably a rare occurrence. What Jesus taught and modeled about serving others was also counter-cultural in the first century.

Have you considered the implications for your organization, even your church, if you were to embrace the value and practice of extraordinary service? What would happen if you offered consistently remarkable service? You would not only be an exception in our world, you could reflect God’s heart and allow people to see and experience His unconditional love—no strings attached.

If this idea intrigues you, you may want to begin with a service audit. Ask yourself the following questions:

When people interact with your organization, are they inspired to tell their friends about the service they received?
Is service one of your stated core values (or excellence, or something else that should drive amazing guest experiences)?
Are your current stated beliefs about the value of people congruent with the way you actually serve people?
Is service one of the core metrics on your scorecard?
Have you embraced serving others as a personal life-style?

Now that you are grounded in reality, what are your next steps? I have one suggestion:

Leaders go first.

Make serving others a priority in your own life first. The central trait of a servant leader is the cultivated ability to think of others first. Once you and I are able to make this our first instinct and our first response, we can legitimately begin the journey to build a service culture.

If Horst was not willing to go first, most of what he had to say would have fallen on deaf ears. The same will be true for us as leaders. If Jesus had just talked about serving others and not been willing to model this behavior, what would that have conveyed?

If leaders choose a life dedicated to serving others, there is a much greater likelihood our organizations can become known as places of remarkable service. When that happens, not only will the world be better for it, we will be as well.

Written by Mark Miller

Mark Miller serves as the Vice President for Leadership Development at Chick-fil-A. He’s a good friend of the Summit—and attends every year with a large team. He regularly blogs at http://greatleadersserve.com/.

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