Updated: Jul 21, 2018
Kindness begets kindness payed forward. Empathy begets empathy towards the next people we meet. Surely, if each of us listened with the ear of our hearts and payed forward kindness and empathy, humanity would begin to flourish in love. “This is the basis for the ethics of love…only love can open a deeper level of consciousness which culminates in universal love…and a means of healing our fragmented world. (Horsman, Chapter 3, page 19).
“Empathetic listening…involves reflecting and experiencing other people’s feelings and states of being through a quality of presence that helps the speaker see themselves more clearly, even in the silence between our words. Listening with empathy involves striving to hear the intention behind the content with sincerity and respect” (Horsman, Listening, pp. 17-18).
I will speak of my wood carving sage again to highlight another important characteristic of servant-leadership to me – empathy. During one of our recent times together, I could hear in the voice of my sage his heavy heart that his memory was not crisply remembering a step in the process. What I was hearing in my own heart was dignity. I knew that silence was far more appropriate than saying words that would only add more weight to a painful reality. Retention of his dignity is what mattered most.
“The servant-leader strives to understand and empathize with others. People need to be accepted and recognized for their special and unique spirits. One assumes the good intentions…and does not reject them as people” (Spears, 2017, no. 5). In that silent space my wise sage began to remember, his own will taking the steering wheel putting memory lapse in the backseat. After a few minutes of all process steps in place, I smiled and told him I think we both are back on our bicycle seats again. After all, our project is a team-effort; I may not know how to ride this particular bike (wood carving equipment), but it is still We.
As part of my servant-leadership, I will always strive to keep empathy at the forefront of my ears and my eyes. We are “more available to engage in healthy relationships and to be authentically empathetic when the emotions of others resonate with similar or identifiable emotions within ourself” (Horsman, Chapter 2, p. 6). We learn best through opposites, and we can better serve having experienced what others are experiencing. I know what it is to not know how to speak what is in my heart; now I can exhibit the opposite and better serve those who need someone to hear words they struggle to convey.
Horsman, J.H., (March, 2017). Chapter Two: Evolving Pathfinding. Retrieved from:
Horsman, J.H. (n.d.) Foundations of the Philosophy of servant-leadership (chapter 3). Retrieved: from: https://learn.gonzaga.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-2235374-dt-content-rid- 23082146_1/courses/ORGL530_A1_11622_FA17/Chapter%20Three.pdf
Horsman, J.H. (n.d.) On Listening. (chapter 6). Retrieved:
Spears, L., (Fall, 2017). Character and Servant-Leadership, Number 5. Retrieved from