| Years ago my dad had a slight heart attack and was hospitalized. I went to visit him and was told by the doctor that there was minimal damage to the heart and my dad would be released at noon. I left to get all his foods for the house and await his call. At 11:00 am he called and said they were running late and that he would call when the paperwork done. At around 1:20 the phone rang and I yelled to my mom “That’s Papa!” But it wasn’t.
It was the doctor who I had just seen that morning. He asked to speak to me and then in a very clinical way told us that my dad had just died. In fact “At 12:50pm John McClease expired”. And “You will need to call the nurses desk to make arrangements for the body ” Shock…..total and utter shock.
As my mother sat with her head in her hands at the kitchen table muttering over and over again “They have the wrong man. He just called”, I started making phone calls.
One of those calls was to the Mortuary. I told the woman what had just happened and she said “I’m so sorry. It sounds like this was unexpected. You must be in shock. Of course I can help you. But first, do you have someone there with you?” As she went through everything with me, she reassured me that I didn’t have to remember much of what she said as she was sending it all in an email and she was only a phone call away. In that moment, she was my lifeline.
The nurse who had taken care of my dad for the few days he was in the hospital had bonded with him and knew everything about our family. When my mother, brother and I arrived to see “the body” she came running down the hall crying with her arms open for hugs. She had stayed late to see us. This nurse had only met me once and had never met my brother. She wanted to make sure she was there to explain what happened. She was LEADING by serving us.
Servant Leadership is knowing when to just “serve”. The doctor was “doing his job” with his mechanical medical explanation of my fathers death. The nurses station was very matter of fact as well when they told me I needed to call a mortuary to “Pick up the body”.
But the woman at the mortuary and my dad’s nurse saved my sanity that day. They took the most difficult situation of my life to that point, and helped me be strong for my family.
It’s been 9 years since my dad passed away and I have never forgotten them.
You might think that your job does not have the potential to affect someone in such a dramatic way. I can guarantee you that is not true.
If we take the lead and serve when we see a need, that could be just what someone needed at that minute.
If there was ever a time to put aside our differences and serve our fellow human beings in the workplace and beyond, this is that time.
So go out and lead by serving first.
Who can you honor by being a Servant Leader?