What’s Essential About Your Service?

What’s Essential About Your Service?


Right now, everyone seems to be chatting about what is and what isn’t deemed an essential service. People are wondering who will make the government lists. Does their service qualify? Will they still have a job during this time of crisis?


In Canada where I live, an essential service is defined as, “a service, the interruption of which would endanger the life, health or personal safety of the whole or part of the population.” Like my business, many of your organizations wouldn’t qualify as essential, based on that definition; however, don’t let that trick you into thinking you’re not essential.

Regardless of whatever government list you are (or aren’t) a part of – there should be something essential about what you do – both for your clients and for your team. Otherwise why are you in business in the first place? And now is the time to step up and provide that essential service to those who need it the most.


I think we have to start by remembering what it is to be a leader. Whether you realize it or not, I believe that if you’re reading this article, you are a leader. You might not be a leader of a team or organization – but you are a personal leader. There are countless definitions of what this means, but I feel that when push comes to shove, it boils down to two things:

  • Leaders guide people and projects in the right direction.
  • Leaders deliberately make the world around them a better place.

When these two ingredients come together, you go beyond traditional leadership and become what is known as a “servant leader”. This means your main objective and core motivation is to serve others. And in a time of crisis and uncertainty, the world needs servant leaders more than ever.


One of my all-time favorite books is, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown. Greg defines an essentialist as someone who is disciplined around discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not. As a leader, this means that out of everything you do, you’re incredibly clear on the core way you serve others – the primary way you encourage and motivate people to take steps in the right direction and keep going.

An essentialist also looks at ways they are spending their time and energy that is not having as much impact. And they are quick to eradicate those things. Less is more! Constantly find more ways to do the things that are making a difference and work hard to eliminate the things that are not.


Since dealing with the COVID 19 crisis and all of its implications on my family and business, the ideas of essential service and servant leadership have been constantly on my mind. I find myself asking the following questions:

  • Out of everything I do, what service do I provide that is most critical to my clients surviving and thriving? How much am I focusing my time and energy on providing that service – regardless of their ability to pay?
  • How much of my time is being wasted on things that are non-essential? How committed am I to ending those things (even if they bring in a lot of money)?
  • What essential role do I play on my team, that I should continue to play regardless of social distancing (ex. strategist, encourager, etc.)? How can I ensure I continue to play that role throughout the crisis?

Right now, these are the questions I think everyone needs to have clear answers to. As servant leaders, how can we focus on what matters most to make a difference in the lives of those who need it most?


Tim Arnold is passionate about helping people understand the chronic issues that limit leadership and teamwork, so they can thrive.  He is the author of The Power of Healthy Tension and speaks to organizations around the globe on how they can overcome chronic issues and conflicting values.

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