Servant Leadership: The Individual and Organizational Imperative To Do Good In The World

Irene Beckerby Irene Becker
Chief Success Officer
Just Coach It—The 3Q Edge
Monday, May 13, 2013


Good in TreeGoodness does not mean dumbing down, nor does it mean living in the world of the warm and fuzzies. What it does mean is a return to a focus on the cardinal ethical imperatives that has always created the best in ourselves, in those we serve, those we lead and those who we have chosen to lead us.

The individual and organizational imperative to DO GOOD in the world is clear. The implicit value of leaders who seek to serve, and organizations focused on creating value for all constituents, is the only path to a better future. Companies that do not create true value for their employees, stakeholders, clients and communities will eventually wither and die. The secret to individual and organizational success hinges on our ability to do good. Doing good means creating value for others.  Doing good means learning to adapt, learn and relearn while protecting the integrity and values that are fundamental to sustainability.

If we do not engage our best self, do our best work and live our best life by enshrining our greatest values, our noblest ideals, we create a bubble that will ultimately burst and plummet to the ground. Engaging our best selves, doing our best work, and living our best lives means resetting the individual and organizational GPS to effectively lead forward.

If we cannot reset the GPS and lead forward, we will fall backwards.  The business, material, and social successes we have acquired will not break our fall, because we have compromised the seedbed of our humanity by forgetting that success and leadership must be predicated on our ability to DO good and create value for others.  Every great empire, fiefdom and corporation in recorded history has been destroyed by need, greed and ego.  The dark side of human character must be replaced with leaders, managers and collaborators who are focused on doing good, because greatness is truly a coefficient of goodness.

Each small positive change, each bit of energy focused on doing good creates a ripple of value and integrity that in turn forms an ocean of hope and power for our self, our society and the world. If a butterfly in Tokyo can change the weather patterns in Los Angeles, what can our small actions each day, every way, have on our society and our world?   What would our personal and professional landscape look like if just 50% of us started each day with the intention to engage our best self, do our best work and live our best life? What would organizations look like if we they were focused on moving from cultures of satisficing to building learning-and-living environments that grow the trust, collaboration and potential of their people and constituents?

Each individual possesses the unique ability to make a positive difference, and servant leaders possess a titanic ability and responsibility to build the social, economic and intellectual capital that drives positive change, that creates well in the world. The fire of individual and organizational growth and well-being is not something we can touch, it is something we must feel and focus on; it is something we must build from top down with a sincere commitment to do good in the world.  Our greatest challenge and greatest strength lie in our ability to USE what is, to create what can be: better selves, better leadership, better organizations, better communities.

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  • James Strock

    Terrific post from Irene Becker. In the 21st century, doing good is not just the right thing to do–it’s a competitive advantage. Thanks to Greenleaf Center and Irene Becker for pushing these important thoughts into discussion.

  • Felix P. Nater

    What a deep perspective on the subject. When even during these trying times where opportunity to rise above the crowd is everywhere, examples like the ones offered by Irene are but short-lived thoughts. Why? Because servant leadership doesn’t pay the bills, it’s corny unappreciated work that doesn’t get you anywhere. If I were wrong our homelessness and poverty would disappear. I get it Irene but you make it tangible. You’re a reservoir of devotion who inspires many.