LBSO – Lead By Serving Others

By David McCuistion

Updated Over a Week Ago

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Lead by serving others. Leadership, for over three decades, has used MBWA – Manage By Walking About.

It has been the recommendation to managers to get out from behind their desks and into the work areas to see what employees are doing. The premise is that by observing the workers, one would be better able to manage their resources and by doing so, be better enabled to make decisions for the company.

Another article by Greg Martin talked about the merits of MBWA and stated that leaders today should continue to use the practice.

From experience, I know that leaders are “walking about” more than managers, so why not a slogan for leaders?

Managing and Leading

Times have changed, systems have improved, people have improved habitually and intelligently, and leadership has broken out to form a separate methodology from managing in the organizational structure.

  • Managing is about resources, including the understanding that Human Resources is part of management in general.
  • Leading and leadership are about influencing, establishing relationships, improving performance while reducing discipline problems, and raising others to levels of effectiveness and efficiency that they themselves, of their own volition, would never achieve.

Servant Leadership

Over the past few years, it is becoming more apparent that Robert Greenleaf’s Servant Leadership is proving to be the most effective and productive method of leadership in successfully meeting organizational visions and missions. Greenleaf’s premise is taken from Herman Hesse’s Journey to the East, in which the servant Leo describes the “Law of Service”, which says,

“He who wishes to live long must serve, but
He who wishes to rule will not live long.”

Greenleaf identifies several characteristics of a Servant Leader, including empathy, Self-awareness, Listening, Commitment to the growth of people, and healing.

Foremost, however, he says that true Servant Leadership is a “Calling,” which is a natural desire to serve others to make a difference in their lives. Of course, the concept of service comes from the example of Jesus, who said, “I came to serve, not to be served.”

James Sipe and Don Frick, after in-depth research into the topic in several companies, defined the “Seven Pillars of Servant Leadership.”

7 pillars

Leaders Having Pride

Motivational Speaker Mike Frank talks about “Leaders having PRIDE” – Personal Responsibility In Developing Excellence.

With his permission, I added the perspective of Servant Leadership, which says, “Leaders have PRIDEPersonal Responsibility In Developing Everyone.” This, in turn, led to my motto of “Developing Great Leaders Who Develop Great Leaders.”

Following the idea of MBWA while thinking about the ideals of Greenleaf, it is time for a new acronym centered around leadership. Leaders must understand that serving others – putting others first –  needs to be a focus in their leadership.

As such, a more appropriate leadership acronym is LBSO – Lead By Serving Others.

Leadership is About Serving

After all, everyone is a servant to someone in the organization. Several examples prove the point: CEOs serve the stakeholders; military members serve the public liberty from tyranny; supervisors serve their department leads and those in their charge; the President and Congress serve their constituents; and so on.

While it is true, leaders can also be managers in their particular position. Therefore,  MBWA relates in that capacity. When performing leadership roles, LBSO is more motivating.

Related Article

How Can You Lead By Serving Others?

If you have ideas that you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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David McCuistion
David McCuistion
David is a retired Naval Officer with extensive leadership and management experience including Officer-in-Charge of a major communication facility, in secondary education teaching leadership, and over five years public speaking on Servant Leadership and organizational development topics.
  • M.S.Kannan says:

    A CEO the leader is successful only when he synergises with CXO community, the CIO,CFO,CTO,CPO,CQO,CMO,CSO,COO for the cEO has to gain by serving the CXO community & develop leaders from the forum to enrich experiences with “PRIDE”

    “Lead by Example”.MSK

  • Chris Elliott says:

    Those who lead by being served rather than serving will find their climb up the ladder is full of broken rungs. That’s not a fortune cookie statement, but a lesson learned from many leaders.

  • Mark Graybill says:

    David, excellent article – and I love the acronym! I have always believed that servitude is the main ingredient in effective leadership.

  • David McCuistion says:

    Thank you all for your comments.

    I agree that we are some times overrun with abbreviations and acronyms. However, I know that many are adopted and used in the field of leadership and management.

    Chris, I have found the law of service to be true. Those who are in it for themselves, ego and self driven, normally fall by the wayside eventually.

    Mark, Bill Flint wrote in his blog recently that said, “If you aren’t serving, you aren’t leading.” I believe this to be true.

    Keep the Quest Alive.


  • Soren Sjogren says:

    Leadership, in my mind, is making results through others.

    In my business (I am an army officer) the best leaders are the ones leading from the front. Leaders who are not afraid to get their hands dirty, who understand their subordinates and who take time to listen to their problems.
    In short: the best leaders who commit themselves to serve not only their superiors but also the troops under their command. LBSO.

  • David McCuistion says:


    Thank you for your post on About Leaders. You are correct, however, many leaders don’t want to get their hands dirty.

    Keep the Servant Leadership Quest Alive.


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