Are you a self-serving leader, or a servant leader? Ken Blanchard has written that effective leaders should serve their people, not be served by them, which is different than the norm. Similarly, John Maxwell states that the leader should be there for their people, not the people there for the leader. This is what is referred to as servant leadership.
I speak about servant leadership in the expectations/philosophies document that I provide to all of my new team members:
I believe in the concept of servant leadership, which encourages leaders to serve others while staying focused on achieving results in line with the organization’s values. An excellent book that explains this leadership philosophy is The Mentor Leader by Tony Dungy.
There are many reasons why this form of leadership resonates with me. Here are just three of them:
- It aligns well with my faith ~ Jesus is my model here. The first section of Mark 10:45 states, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve”. It is my aim to serve my team members well. Now some will say that the terms “servant” and “leader” conflict with each other, and cannot be used together. But I have found them to be perfectly in alignment, and I find joy in leading this way. Does the concept of a servant leader make sense to you? Can you get your ego out of the way and instead build up others?
- It is a successful leadership model. Blanchard states that the servant leader provides the vision and values for their team. Once the direction is clear, the servant leader’s role is to help their team members to achieve their goals. They teach and coach their team members so that they can do their best, achieve their goals and reach their highest potential. Servant leaders listen to their team members, praise them, support them and redirect them when they deviate from the path. That is a model that I can support and get behind and it’s how I try to lead. Do you see how this can be a successful model?
- It helps team members be successful. Blanchard states that the servant leader is constantly trying to find out what their people need to be successful. They are interested in making a difference in their people’s lives, and in the process, positively impacting their organization by delivering good results. The role of the servant leader is to help their people win and accomplish their goals. If you are a leader, what are you doing to help your team members win and accomplish their goals?
- It’s the way I would like to be led. Think of the “Golden Rule”. The first section of Matthew 7:12 states “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them”. If I apply that to how I would like to be led, it would be to be led by a servant leader. That type of leader that is always there to help you win and accomplish your goals. You can relax, do your best and know that you have a leader who has your best interests in mind. Have you worked with any servant leaders in the past? How did that make a difference for you?
These are just a few of the reasons that I aspire to be a servant leader. There are many more. Can you think of more to add to this list? Have I made the case that this is the best way to lead? Why or why not?