When we think about leadership, what do we consider it to encompass? Does it come from a position or title? Does it come from mentoring others? That question was posed to a peer group I’m a part of and we started a debate about what “servant leadership” is. One of my peer group members raised his hand and made one of the boldest statements I’ve ever heard someone say. “There is no such thing as servant leadership.” I was taken aback. Obviously, there is servant leadership. I’ve got a whole collection of books on the topic! Before I could respond, he said “All leadership should be in service to others. Servant leadership only exists when you have self-serving leaders.” That’s a powerful statement.
Years ago, I found myself lost. I had a great job, had great friends, and had a great life. However, something always felt incomplete. Think of it like trying one of those restaurant copycat recipes at home, it’s close but some ingredient is missing. While talking with a friend one day, they mentioned this group of young professionals who were doing great things. I asked the group’s name and he replied “The705”. I thought maybe expanding my circle of friends is exactly what I was missing. I was both right and wrong.
My first 705 event was in February…on a freeze night…at the homeless shelter in Downtown Lafayette. If you’ve never been, it’s enough to make you breakdown. The shelter is overcrowded with people sleeping on the floor with whatever they brought in with because the shelter does not have enough essentials to provide comfort to everyone. All they can do is prevent people from freezing to death outside their doors. Our group helped prep meals and spoke with staff about what they see on a day-to-day basis. “What can we do to help?” was said more times than I can remember. I went home that night defeated. How can they let people struggle like this? Who needs to fix this? The answer hit me like a ton of bricks. I am.
Through my work on the board with the705, I’ve come to realize the impact that they have had on me. I know now that while I am responsible to fix the issues of the world, it’s also my responsibility to get others to work on them as well. The goal being to empower people to tackle something that betters their community. That’s what leadership is. Leadership is accidental and intentional. It’s heartbreaking and rewarding. It’s failure and success. The one constant is that it’s always in service to others. The705 and the people I met through it helped me realize that.
– Roddy Bergeron –