In my first high school principalship (Jayton High School in Jayton, Texas), I invested a lot of time and effort in "coaching" our student leaders on the campus. I steadily hammered them with the concept that "to whom much is given, much is required."
As part of that leadership coaching process, I encouraged our cheerleaders to make sure that they removed and appropriately disposed of the spirit signs they would hang on the bleachers and fences at the stadiums of our opponents. After a couple of games, I noticed that our band began cleaning up the portion the bleachers where they were seated during ballgames.
It wasn't long before I started receiving letters from principals, superintendents, even political officials from the communities we competed against, praising our students for their acts of service.
Of course, I shared those letters with our students and faculty. Shortly thereafter, I noticed that our cheerleaders and band, of their own accord, began "sweeping" the whole visitors side of the stadium when we played elsewhere. They combed the visitors bleachers from end to end, cleaning them of all trash and debris. Surprisingly, even community members began joining our students in those acts of public service.
Watching that dynamic of infectious leadership centered on service to others, triggered by the student leaders in our school, is one of the highlights of my years of service as a school administrator. The memory of watching those students sweeping the bleachers after a game (win or lose) still makes me emotional. They were enacting one of the purest and simplest forms of servant leadership.
But then, aren't ALL acts of authentic leadership rooted in the soil of service?