You can call it youth, you can call it ego. But in my mid-twenties I had a relentless drive and desire to be the absolute best! Being #1 was my only mission. However, the harder I tried to being #1 the fewer followers I had. I had wondered why isn’t my business growing. Why had I tapped out?
Why? I was stuck in the traditional leadership trap; which involved the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the top of the food chain! It was about me impressing everyone about my accomplishments. It was about me getting what I wanted. It was about the title. It was simply about Me..Me..Me…
Then I was shown an example of what servant leadership was. I had requested the assistance of one of my managers in enrolling a new client. I felt like I needed their expertise and credibility. The issue was he had to drive over 4 hours to help me.
He agreed, and I was excited for him to join me on the appointment. This deal was going to put ME over the top. The day came and to top it off there was a warning of a snowstorm. Argh! But it got better, my client, the one that was going to take me to the top called to cancel on me! I was devastated. What was I going to do? My manager was already on his way. Now, what?
I had no choice but to call my manager and tell him. I had assumed before I made the call he was not going to be very happy with me. Begrudgingly, I made the call. To my surprise, he was cool, calm, and collect. He said to me, ” No worries, I am still coming down.”
What? Like why, wouldn’t you just turn around. I don’t have an appointment to run.
He said, “ It’s been awhile since we connected. Everything happens for a reason. Let’s grab lunch and catch up with one another.”
Here is what he taught me. A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people. They focus on raising people up. The servant-leader shares power puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible. Servant leadership isn’t about positions and titles. Instead, it is an attitude that says individuals and relationships are more important, valuable and essential to overall success.
We had a great conversation, and he also gave me a four-word secret. As a leader, “its not about you.” He could have quickly turned around and went home. However, he saw it as valuable time to grow me as a leader.
After that, I think I got his message. Serve others! Help them achieve their goals! Once I adopted servant leadership over traditional leadership, my business grew by leaps and bounds. More importantly, I learned there is great joy in serving others.
Here are four lessons I learned in how to be a Servant Leader.
- Be eager to help people at your work to become more successful. The purpose of being eager to serve is to show your teammates/ customers that there is nothing more important, at that moment than serving them. Your actions should say, I am atyour service. This doesn’t mean spoon-feeding, it means equipping and empowers others.
- Be willing to be the example. -If you try improving another person by being a good example you grow two people. If you try to improve someone without being a good example you improve no one. Always show them how to do it first. In today’s world, many leaders expect their subordinates to perform tasks which they themselves are incapable of doing. The way I see it destroys their credibility and causes them to lose the respect from their followers.
- Genuinely Care about others– When you genuinely care about others you serve them by finding out what’s important to them and what they care about. It’s hard to care about something when you don’t know why. Invest the time in getting to know your people.
- See others for not just who they are but for who they can become-Servant leaders see potential in everyone, working to elevate each individual. The result? An even stronger team with greater capabilities. If the weakest link on the team is inspired to aspire to achieve higher goals, think of the possibilities.
As the Muhammad Ali said, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” He couldn’t be more right.
Equip, Educate, Empower
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