The Degree Every Effective Leader Has

There is a degree that every effective leader has.  What is it?  It's an MBA degree.  What's an MBA degree? 

Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy's hamburgers, coined the MBA degree phrase.  It stands for "Mop Bucket Attitude."

Here's what he said.
I got my MBA long before my GED.  I even have a photograph of me in my MBA graduation outfit; a knee length work apron.  I guarantee you that I’m the only founder among America’s big companies whose picture in the corporate annual report shows him wielding a mop and a plastic bucket.  That wasn’t a gag; it was a case of leading by example.  At Wendy’s, MBA doesn’t mean Master of Business Administration.  It means Mop Bucket Attitude.  It’s how we define satisfying the customer through cleanliness, quality food, friendly service, and atmosphere.
Having an MBA degree is about leading by being a servant first.  It's about grabbing a mop bucket and mopping before mandating...caring before commanding...jumping into the messiness before jumping onto the podium...doing before demanding...lifting up rather than being lifted up.

Every effective leader has learned the power of being a servant leader.  Servant and leader together?  Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it?  But it's not.  In fact, it's the secret to the kind of leadership people will follow. 

Dave Thomas wasn't the first leader to model this.  Jesus, the ultimate leader, had an MBA leadership degree. His disciples thought that leadership was about how many people served you.  And they got it honest.  It's all they knew.  The leadership they had seen modeled by those who ruled over them, the Romans and Jewish religious leaders, was leadership that led by force, taking, putting others down and lording over people.

This is evident in Matthew 20, where you see the disciples arguing about who would have the greatest title and authority when Jesus established His kingdom.  This is when Jesus shared with them what an MBA leadership degree is.  

“You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them.  But among you it will be different.  Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave.  For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Remember the night when Jesus and the disciples arrived at the upper room?  In that culture, when you arrived somewhere, the servants in the house would wash everyone's feet.  Washing guests' feet was something only done by servants.  It was the lowest position in the kingdom.  The disciples weren't about to "lower themselves" to do such a task. 

Jesus decided to model for them what an MBA degree is.  As the disciples sat around talking about who would be the greatest in the kingdom, Jesus quietly got a towel and basin, and began washing their dirty feet.  He showed them that effective leadership doesn't lead with a title.  It leads with a towel of serving others. 

If you want to be an effective leader, then make sure you have your MBA degree.  At the end of the day, it's not about how many people serve you, it's about how many people you serve.