Servant-leadership is the counter-intuitive way to build profitable relationships with the people who matter most. But most people don’t know what it is. So let’s cut through the quick-fix and get to what makes it so challenging.
Everyone’s a Leader These Days
Everyone seems to think they’re a leader. The term has almost entirely lost its meaning. It seems that if you’re a decision-maker of any kind, you’re called a leader. But what happens when a small-time, JV soccer coach at a small school has the hearts and minds of his players, while the CEO down the street can’t seem to keep good talent?
A Lack of Humility Kills Momentum
This problem is made worse by the fact that leaders can’t get any momentum, being undercut by poor leadership: poor trust, confusion and miscommunication within the ranks and processes that can’t seem to get going or be maintained.
And on top of that, the managers they trust just seem to leave, while the worst seem to stay.
Servant-Leadership: A Choice to Serve
Servant leadership solves this problem. But it’s not a frame we can adopt simply by liking the sound of it. It’s not like liking a band. It’s a discipline you adopt and maintain in your life: a choice to serve others, even when it costs you.
First, let’s talk about what it’s not:
- It’s not getting walked on by those around you. When you’re focusing everyone on a bigger purpose, you don’t get walked on; you help others understand how they can help achieve that larger purpose.
- It’s not a PR effort where you claim to be a servant-leader, but secretly run your own game. If you’re faking this kind of thing, everyone’s gonna know it. It’s not the kind of thing you can fake easily.
- It’s also not hoarding information. It’s being more focused on the goal than anyone else, so that you can support them in their jobs…creating excellence all around you.
What it is:
- Listening not just to things you want to hear, or that you expect, but also to those things you don’t want to hear, that you don’t know the answer for, that put a bee in your bonnet.
- Speaking, but speaking the truth. It sometimes hurts feelings, and the blame it comes back and lands on you. But you don’t back down, simply because telling the truth would cost you.
- Planning, but with alignment in mind…making sure everyone is aimed toward the big goal. That means that every part and person within your organization is causing people to grow. If it’s not, they shouldn’t be there, or your process must change. Or maybe you’re in the wrong business.
Who knew that serving and loving others is what life and work are all about? Well, actually, it’s a way of life that goes back thousands of years. Which goes to show, you don’t need a newfangled theory written by a Silicon Valley tech mogul to find this teaching.
Your Turn: Tell Me a Story
Care to share? Tell a story about how strengthening yourself will change your organization, even those around you, including your boss. Or maybe you’re a skeptic, in which case, why not share your skepticism? Because truth just allows us to go deeper into understanding.