Being a leader means more than being the boss. The imagery of a boss at a desk, feet up while others work is an outdated, traditional management style. This gives the impression that leaders have paid their dues and don’t have to work hard anymore. It focuses on outcomes and disregards the people that generate the outcomes.
Servant leaders take the traditional leadership model and turn it completely upside down. This new model puts the employees at the top and the leader at the bottom. The leaders' role is to serve the employees above them. And that's exactly the way servant-leaders like it.
Servant-leaders have a serve-first mindset:
They are passionate about empowering and uplifting those who work for them.
They serve instead of command.
They show humility instead of flaunting authority.
They find opportunities to enhance the development of their staff.
They unlock potential, creativity, and sense of purpose.
No matter how high they rise on the leadership scale, great leaders seek to better understand the needs of the people they are leading.
Here are three examples that support a mindset of service:
Delegate, but be willing to do the work too.
The best leaders make time to come alongside and help... delegating is an important function of leadership. You can’t lead if you are doing all the work, but it’s important to model an attitude of serving. By rolling up your sleeves and working with the team, you show them they are as important as you.
If you want a high level of team cooperation and a sense of camaraderie, show them your example. Modeling a serve-first mindset creates a dynamic team environment. It allows you to spend more time getting work done instead of dealing with conflict.
Find out what people need to make things easier.
The people you lead have a lot on their plate. They have on and off-duty lives, too. Great leaders know when their teams need something to make it easier.
Keeping your finger on the pulse of what they need builds trust and respect. Staying in tune with your teams' needs, both on and even off-duty communicates care and concern. You will reap the benefits from this type of team-environment many times over.
Always ask questions.
Leaders have to hand down a lot of policies and procedures their teams have to follow. Asking questions and getting input helps everyone feel heard and valued. Sometimes a person you lead might have an idea or a process that is better than the one you came up with.
Great leaders ask questions. They get curious and stay curious.
Serving others, especially when you’re the leader, is vital. There’s no title too high that excludes someone from service.
If you want to dig deeper into what it means to be a servant-leader, I highly recommend this video by Simon Sinek and his book by the same name, Leaders Eat Last.
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