Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant
– Matthew 20:26
There is lots of information out there about what it means to be a good leader in the business world. But what does being a leader mean for Christians? This is the upside down Kingdom, after all, where the first shall be last, which is not exactly a common corporate value!
Sue Wigston, COO of Eagle’s Flight, an organization that helps Fortune 500 companies all over the world train and develop their people, practices her own brand of servant-based leadership that she applies in the broader business world.
Sue views leadership not as a means of seizing power and control, but rather as a way to help people release their own potential. It’s an upside-down approach to leadership where the trainee’s needs come first. This servant-based leadership approach was always a natural fit for Sue, who is a woman of deep faith.
She sees a leader as someone whose love for the world drives them to improve it. She quotes her friend John McAuley, CEO of Muskoka Woods, who says: “A leader is someone who looks at the world and says, ‘It doesn’t have to be this way,’ and does something about it.”
Sue did not set out to be a corporate leader. In fact, she was terrified to speak in public when she started in the field. She quickly learned that ”If you go in by loving people, you don’t have to be what you are not.” Now, she focuses simply on speaking the truth about what she knows: much like she does with her faith.
She is, in her own words, “the girl with no ambition who kept getting promoted.” Because she was not focused on money or title, but rather on her interest in helping people become their best selves, she was able to move up through the ranks without compromising her values. Her desire to limit her work hours to the times her children were in school drove her to be more efficient. Sue did not allow her work to dictate her values, but let her values dictate the way she worked. Thankfully, she was able to find a company that rewarded her for this approach.
Sue’s openness and flexibility has allowed her to figure out how to lead Millennials effectively. By listening to and recognizing how to appreciate this generation, she is able to bring out the best in a group that routinely challenges tradition. She has helped her clients develop a “Millennial mindset” to help them retain and develop this talented subset of employees. Again, it’s her servant-based leadership approach that has helped her learn how to help Millennials thrive.
Sue is an excellent example of how Christians can use their love for people to excel in the secular world and to showcase the upside down Kingdom by putting others’ needs first.