Who Is The Hero Of Your Leadership Story?

For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Luke 14:11

We all have a story we tell ourselves about our leadership: a private narrative in our own minds that the outside world never hears. Each day you build upon your leadership story. You talk to yourself about your development, progress, and sacrifices. And you “write” page after page about your mistakes, missed opportunities, and weaknesses. It’s human nature to think about our leadership this way. We all do it.

But, the truth?

When you talk to yourself like this, without meaning to or even being aware of it, you make yourself the hero of your own leadership story. Servant leadership requires you to flip the script and allow the people you lead to take center stage in your mind’s story of how you lead. But what does “flipping the script” mean, in tangible, practical terms? What concrete steps can you take?

  1. Take stock of your leadership.

Self-awareness is critical to becoming an effective servant leader. It’s important to think about how you show up and lead and what you can improve.

  1. Schedule time to think about how to serve others effectively.

More importantly, how often do you make it a point to simply think and plan about how to lift up each of the people in your life? Your mind is a marvelous gift from God. So are your powers of perception and discernment. If you’re like most of the leaders I serve, you’ve made tremendous progress in developing your ability to use these gifts to serve others well in real time, as events and challenges unfold. But serving reactively is only half of a servant leader’s job. The other half is serving proactively. Intuitively.


How much more meaningful and powerful could your service be if, instead of simply responding to needs, you developed your ability to anticipate them? Giving yourself time and space to think and pray about each of the people you lead – thoroughly, expansively, and earnestly — will support you to become more proactive, intuitive, and intentional in how you serve.

  1. Seek out unconventional heroes for your personal leadership narrative.

As you begin to focus on other people more, you need to be aware of something: You will find it easier to spend more time thinking about how to serve people who are likable and like you. You will find it harder to think and pray about people who feel incompatible with you. I challenge you to seek out unconventional heroes for your new leadership story:

  • Employees on the fringes.
  • Middle managers who are struggling.
  • Employees who are high performing but who are in some fundamental way incompatible with your personality.

Invest in these people, too. As you focus on them and develop your intuition of how to effectively serve them, you will lift them up to a level of performance they’ve never experienced.

This is the core promise and documented outcome of servant leadership.

Are you open to adjusting your schedule? Taking dedicated time each day to thinking and praying about how to better serve each of the people in your life? For those minutes, quiet your mind, shift your focus from your own performance and problems, and give someone else the hero’s role in your leadership story. Jesus certainly did this each day for you and me.

Let’s follow His lead. Are you in?


But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

Luke 14:13-14


Mark W. Deterding
Mark W. Deterding
MARK Deterding is an author, speaker, consultant, executive coach and the founder of Triune Leadership Services, LLC. His purpose is to work with leaders to help them develop core servant leadership capabilities that allow them to lead at a higher level and enable them to achieve their God-given potential. He has written two books, A Model of Servant Leadership, and Leading Jesus’ Way. With over three decades of experience directing companies and developing leaders, Mark created A Model of Servant Leadership parallel to the principles that Jesus himself illustrated. Working with organizations, leadership teams, and executives one-on-one, he helps bring focus, clarity, and action to make things work. He also conducts training programs to teach faith-based servant leadership principles. His greatest passion is seeing the impact servant leadership has on people’s lives and beyond. Prior to Triune Leadership Services he worked for 35 years in the printing industry holding senior leadership positions at Taylor Corporation, RR Donnelly, and Banta Corporation. He is an accomplished executive with a proven track record for developing purpose-driven; values based teams that drive culture improvement, enhanced employee passion, and improved business results. He is featured in Ken Blanchard’s book “Leading at a Higher Level”, and has been a featured speaker for the Ken Blanchard Companies Executive Forum in both 2007 and 2011. Mark lives in Alexandria, Minnesota with his wife Kim. They have two sons, two daughter-in-laws, and three grandchildren, so far. To find out more about Mark and his work, visit Triune Leadership Services via the Link adjacent his Photo above.

SOLD OUT! JOIN OUR WAITING LIST! It's not a virtual event. It's not a conference. It's not a seminar, a meeting, or a symposium. It's not about attracting a big crowd. It's not about making a profit, but rather about making a real difference. LEARN MORE HERE



  1. It is increasingly important to pay attention to the interior formation of new leaders and managers. Their personal and spiritual growth is fundamental, because it appears to be increasingly clear that to change the things we do not need charismatic people that are doomed to success and money through a rat race, but individuals capable of loving. Among the skills required for new managers is the mature empathy, compassion, love, forgiveness, the ability to stay connected to the higher values of life, the ability of preferring the collective well-being, ability to understand that the purpose of ethics, that that the company states, is more important than the ego, of self-glorification. People have to understand that the happiness of others has a positive effect on their happiness, that there is the need to integrate professional career with his own inner life.