***This article is inspired by chapter 7 of John C. Maxwell’s book
“Developing the Leader Within You 2.0” – “The Heart of Leadership: Serving People.” ***
“Servant leadership” has become somewhat cliche’ over the past 20 years or so as it’s been spoken and written about repeatedly in various settings. However, we should be careful not to diminish the value of this philosophy of leadership. While many people say they believe in the servant leadership model, few truly exhibit the qualities of a servant leader. Pride and ego often get in the way for many leaders. Personal agendas override serving others. Putting others first in decision-making is challenging, so few leaders actually do it even if they say they are all about it.
So, how do you become a better servant leader? Consider the following five recommendations by John Maxwell:
1 – Don’t rely on your position or title.
One of the key mistakes many leaders make is over-valuing their defined position or title. While you do work hard to achieve higher levels of status in your organization, your title should merely describe the work you do for the betterment of the organization. As you elevate in your position, you should realize that your responsibilities grow. Don’t expect people to serve you just because of your title or the location of your office. Rather, determine to use the resources allotted to your position to serve others better.
2 – Choose to believe in people and their potential.
When you believe in your people and see what they can become, you will be more motivated to help them achieve their potential. You will see how the resources you have access to can help them grow and develop. You can give them opportunities to test their skills. If you don’t believe in someone, you’ll be less likely to give them new experiences and opportunities. Belief in your people is a choice you must make. Look for potential and then act accordingly.
3 – Try to see things from the perspective of others.
As you elevate in leadership roles, it is easy to forget where you came from. In order to serve your followers best, try to remember what it was like when you were on your growth journey. The older you get, the harder this is, but it is very important to see from their perspective. What is it like to be working in their role? What is it like to follow you? Ask yourself a variety of questions as if you were in their shoes and think about ways to serve them better based on how you would want your leader to help you.
4 – Work to create an environment of encouragement.
Workplace culture has become a very hot topic in recent years. The reason is that opportunities are abundant in our world. Organizations that want to attract and retain great employees must cultivate an environment where they can grow and want to stay. As a leader, you are like a gardener. You need to till the soil, plant seeds for success, water the plants, and pull weeds that cause problems. When you encourage your people consistently, they will generally respond positively and take important growth steps. Those who don’t will either choose to move on or stand out as someone that you need to release from your organization. Don’t let negative team members who are a bad fit linger and discourage those who are on board and want to make a difference.
5 – Measure your success by how much you add value to others.
While hitting your goals are important for any organization, how you do so is very important if you want to be a great leader. Many “leaders” have put incredible pressure on their people over the years like a dictator, but the culture and morale suffers. Leaders like this don’t get the most out of their followers. They may hit their numbers, but they will do the bare minimum to make their bosses happy. This puts a cap on the organization’s potential. However, if you look to add value to your followers each day by speaking about the potential you see in them and helping them achieve it, you will build an organization that not only meets its goals but can elevate to be one of the best in your industry.
Zig Ziglar once said, “If you help people get what they want, they will help you get what you want.” Leadership is about getting things done with and through others. The best way to do that is to serve your followers well so you can all achieve the results that are required, as well as, desired. Begin to look for ways to serve your people today and watch how you can increase the capacity of your team and your organization.
Until next time…make today GREAT!
By the way, if you want to take your life or leadership to the next level, click HERE to learn more about my personal and executive coaching services.