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How to be a Servant Leader, Center Stage

I don’t like the concept of servant leader too much. I think it is often over-stretched, and unduly loaded with moral baggage.

But there is one thing I am convinced a leader should do, and should be capable of doing: promote greatness in others. The first step to do this is often difficult enough for many: step back, and leave space for others. But then the next question arises: once you have left space, what can you do more?

Here’s an inspiration as to what you can do. In 2007, 21-year old bass player Tal Wilkenfeld joined Rock legend Jeff Beck for a European tour, this being the second major engagement in her career. At the end of the tour, they appeared at the Crossroads festival, organised by Eric Clapton, Jeff’s predecessor as guitarist of the Yardbirds, back in the ’60ies. In their first tune, Jeff opens with his signature intro to “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers”, and after just one chorus, hands over to Tal. Notice what Jeff does during her solo. Think what effect it has on the audience’s attention, on how they think about it. Basically he is being a role model to the audience. Notice also how it encourages Tal to increase the intensity of her playing for the second chorus, and how the drummer Vinnie Colaiuta undermines it with his play. At one moment, you can see keyboarder Jason Rebello join Jeff in his mixture of admiring and encouraging observation.

This is how it’s done.

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