Leadership Spokane is committed to the truism that leaders always learn. This past weekend, it was quite enjoyable to watch a quality movie that reinforced what Leadership Spokane teaches daily. Disney’s famous Jungle Book remake was simultaneously entertaining, appealed to my retro childhood roots and equally reinforced our organization’s servant leadership teachings. The tale from the writings of world famous English author Law of Pack 1Rudyard Kipling tells of an orphaned boy Mowgli who is raised by a pack of wolves, a panther and a bear, and battles evil in the form of a vicious tiger Shere Khan before safely returning to his human origins. The start and end of the movie show Mowgli and his pack of wolves reciting the Law of the Pack, “For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.” This theme underpins the theme of the movie which can be similarly paraphrased from the famous Three Musketeers motto… “all for one, one for all!”
The Law of the Pack also perfectly captures the yin and yang of servant leadership. Leadership is influencing or guiding followers. Yet, we also understand, as Robert Greenleaf reminds us, “The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first.” The pack needs the wolf and the wolf needs the pack. The leader serves the followers and the followers trust the servant-leader. When properly followed, the servant-leader compact is incredibly powerful that it evolves the team to a transformational level. Yin and yang synchronize perfectly.
The give and take of servant leadership is best represented by the 10 servant leadership characteristics as penned by Greenleaf. Leaders need to have foresight but they must first listen to their followers. The aim is to persuade but they must first be aware. They should heal but they must be empathetic. They should conceptualize but they must first be stewards. Finally, servant-leaders are expected to build community but only after being committed to the growth of their followers. The strength of the pack is the wolf and the wolf’s strength is the pack. In other words, the leader gains his strength from the followers, and the followers’ strength is the leader.
Jungle Book is a Disney epic but its magic comes from its simple truths of teamwork as portrayed by a variety of creatures of the jungle who unite against the despicable tiger. William Ayot’s famous leadership poem “The Contract” captures the trust that the servant leader is able to generate: “We give them our trust. We give them our effort. What we ask in return is that they stay true.” Mowgli served his “jungle friends” and used his “tricks” to serve faithfully his friend the bear Baloo and rescued the baby elephant from a pit. He thus stayed true to his friends and they in turn stayed true to him honoring the law of the pack. How refreshing when a tale from my childhood days reaffirms my adult leadership philosophies. Leadership Spokane follows the law of the pack – the strength of the leader is the follower and the strength of the follower is the servant-leader!
I always prefer to believe the best of everybody, it saves so much trouble. ~ Rudyard Kipling