Serving others is the visible example of leadership. I have always believed that in order to lead you must serve those who will actually make it happen. Jesus said that he came not to be served- but to serve. He provides the model for servant leadership. There is an extreme amount of power that comes from modeling the servant’s heart.
Some leaders have a difficult time getting to the level to serve their team. They feel that they will loose their position of respect if they join in or if they reveal their feelings. Many leaders don’t want to get dirty, they don’t want to get involved in the lives of the people they lead. The classic authoritarian model is cleaner, it provides isolation and comfort .
The servant leader is not afraid to cross these boundries because they understand the power that is unleased when you truly care for others and the difference it makes in empowering people to do the extraordinary. A few characteristics of the servant leader:
- They Respect- The servant leader treat everyone with respect regardless of their position or role. There are no distinction between executive or the janitor. All persons deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
- They Appreciate- They will quick to show their appreciation for a job well done or even just a good effort. This appreciation is not only monetary or at your yearly review. You need to show your appreciation quickly and with abundance.
- They Ask Questions- An open door policy is not enough. You need to periodically ask what you need or what could be improved. Employees are often hesitant and will keep quiet unless they are asked. Have the guts to ask them how they are doing!
- They Observe and Listen- They are sensitive to what is going on around them. They take a posture of listening instead of directing. They do not avoid problems that are brewing- they confront them.
- They Replicate- The servant leader will develop and mentor future leaders. They are not afraid to share their tips and life stories to help someone else in their career grow. They understand that mentoring to replicate is the power of growing the organization.
- They Release- They encourage others to think on their own and provide them with the freedom to make decisions and develop new ways to solve problems. They unlease the creative power of the team to improve the process. This is surrendered authority to others and trusting them to work out effective solutions.
The first step in developing your skills as a servant leader is to serve. There are countless opportunities around us. Some are as simple as showing respect and kindness to the people you encounter daily- the store clerk, the mechanic, your coworkers. More aggressive opportunities are serving the poor, those trapped in addictions, ex-cons. Once you get over the fears you will unleash a power that will transform your effectiveness as a leader. Where will you serve?