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WHAT IS SERVANT LEADERSHIP

Servant leadership is the unwavering belief that people are the most valuable asset to any organization. A leader’s greatest service is to draw out the best of their people for the benefit of the organization. Servant leaders create environments where their people feel safe, appreciated, and encouraged to be their best. They create systems that protect their people from downturns, low value behaviors, and suppression. They lay their own agendas, preferences, and ideas down and listen to the agendas, preferences, and ideas of their team. They care about getting people to work together towards common goals and shared ideas.

Servant leaders have a clear vision and goals for their organizations and clearly communicate them to their people. They invite feedback and discussion for every major decision from their staff. They correct in private and praise in public. They value unity above all and do everything in their power to protect it.

WHY SERVANT LEADERSHIP?

It’s all about the heart. A leader’s job is to help their people become the best they can be. They are there to nurture, admonish, and encourage growth. Taking the servant leader perspective keeps a leader’s heart in the right place. With all the demands, disappointments, responsibilities, risks, and rejections leaders face it is easy to become hard-hearted. It’s easy to write people off when they don’t deliver on a promise. It’s easy to explode in anger when deadlines aren’t met. It’s easy to micromanage rather than to give the power back to the people. Without the right heart, the right purpose, plan, or product means nothing. A leader’s heart is their organizations wellspring of life. And without the right heart, a culture will be built on the wrong fundamentals and will fall apart.

HOW TO BECOME A SERVANT LEADER?

Leadership is based on influence, not control. Influence is powerful, control makes people powerless. Influence is reality, control is an illusion. To increase your influence, you have to S.E.R.V.E. your team.

S – Standards

You must have high standards for yourself. Have you ever worked for a leader who has high standards for everyone else, but not themselves? It’s frustrating, debilitating, and humiliating. Set high standards for the way you walk, talk, and dress. Set high standards for your character, communication, and personal development. Set high standards for your physical health, finances, and lifestyle. Don’t settle for less when you can be the best. Leaders set the bar high and reach it as a way to show others what’s possible.

E – Environment

Orison Swett Marden said, “We make the world we live in and shape our own environment.” Environment, more than anything else, is responsible for who we become. If you spend a lot of time with happy, funny, and joyful people, you will become happy, funny, and joyful. If you spend a lot of time with negative, angry, and rude people, you will be the same. Leaders are responsible for creating an environment which values people and helps them grow.

R – Respect

Life is 10% what happens and 90% how we respond to it. A leader should always respond with respect. A leader should always ask: How is what I’m about to say respectful to this person? I’ve heard people say over and again, “People have to earn my respect.” If people have to earn your respect, then you have to earn theirs. How do you earn someone’s respect? By treating them with respect. Servant leaders treat everyone with respect, even if they haven’t earned it.

V – Vision

Where are you taking your team? What goals are you trying to accomplish? Are they clear? If you were to ask any team member what their goals are, could they tell you? Without vision you are lost. Jack Welch said, “Good leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” Serve your people by showing them where you are going and remind them consistently.

E – Energy

Einstein said, “Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.” Creating energy is a great way to serve your team. Imagine you leave work and you’re tired. You head home planning to close the curtains and go to bed early. Then, your best friend from high school calls and says they’re in town for the evening and ask you to go out with them. What would happen? You would find energy you didn’t know you had and would go out with them. All teams have periods when they feel demotivated and tired. Leaders have to find ways to energize their people to greater levels of achievement. Bringing energy is a great way to serve your team.

If you S.E.R.V.E. consistently, you will influence your people to serve each other. Your people will model your behavior, both good and bad. Aspire towards the good and the bad will work itself out. If, however, you don’t put people’s needs, dreams, and ideas first. If you aren’t humble enough to allow others to get credit, or you shoot down other people’s plans, your people will do the same and your culture will be a mess. You can’t have a great culture without servant leadership