I love to learn about leadership. I’m always for looking for ways to improve as a leader. I recently completed Ken Blanchard’s book, “Leading at a Higher Level” and in it Blanchard devotes a whole chapter to a specific type of leadership he calls, “servant leadership”.
Servant leadership may seem like an oxymoron, but if you dig a bit deeper it isn’t. As a leader you should be serving those you lead. An immature person who is in leadership can begin to think that their direct reports are there to serve THEM. This is the opposite of humility. The ego is inflated. The opposite is actually true. Just because you may be high up in an organization or that you have folks reporting into you, the fact is, you should really be serving them. We’ve all met these types of folks…highly successful, but willing to give the knowledge they’ve gained to those around them.
I recently heard a speaker as this question, “are your employees better off for having worked for you?” or “is your spouse better off for being your spouse?” These are pretty deep questions. Servant leaders realize that life is not about them, but about the folks they are leading. How are you building up the folks you lead? How are they better off for having known you? Are you seeing the best in them and constantly trying to help them improve? Are you teachable and learning from them? Have you asked them what you could do to make their job easier? Do you get into the details of the issues they are struggling with and helping them solve those issues?
Leading takes time and involves casting the vision, but also helping those you lead see the pathway to the vision. This is not easy. It can be frustrating and takes patience, but again it’s not about you, it’s about them.
I am by no means the picture of a servant leader. I have a long way to go. It’s about the heart. As a leader, you should have a heart to serve others as opposed to having them serve you.