A Note on Service - and Servant Leadership

Written by Mark Hillyard

I have spent the better part of my adult life working in Service Management.  Whether it was office automation or IT, my career path has always been one of support for the business.  When I transitioned from managing a team of administrative professionals in the legal field into IT, I thought I was making a huge course correction.  Ironically, my new path was just a shiny, technology-driven side step. Days went from preparing hundreds of pages of legal briefs and colorful PowerPoint® presentations to modifying server configurations and troubleshooting e-mail.  But it was all in the interest of keeping the business moving forward.


For those of us who have dedicated years to providing quality service to the business—mostly in the shadows, to be quite frank—this is no great revelation.  But often, the business forgets there is an entire ecosystem that regularly contributes to the overall success of the organization without even being recognized.  Honestly, how many people really know the IT staff?  I worked within IT-focused organizations for over a decade, and I don’t think anyone in executive management really even knew my name.  And forget about trying to describe to non-service management people what it is we do for a living.  The best way to describe most ITSM jobs is to say we move the computer sludge from one place to another so it doesn’t end up in the lap of the CEO.  And we are a cost center.  We don’t directly contribute to the bottom line in a positive way…ever.  But for all of our lurking in the shadows and providing generally unrecognized work, we would be very hard pressed to find a single company, of any size, that can function without Service Management.

This has been on my mind as my own role is shifting from one of service and support to one of leadership.  And it has reminded me, once again, that I am simply moving from one type of service to another.  Now my service is to my team members.  I must strive to ensure they have all of the tools necessary to successfully execute their daily tasks and complete projects.  My priorities have shifted, but the goal to provide high quality service remains.  Now I depend on others to provide great service to our clients, and I can only do that by providing the service level they need from me to do so effectively.  We all must strive to provide the best possible service to those that depend upon our expertise and experience, be that a customer or our own team members.  I have had other opportunities throughout my career to serve as a manager, and I believe it was not until I began focusing on service and process that I realized what it truly is to be a servant leader.

Originally published June 06 2016, updated January 01 2019