Serving Leader, the elusive leadership skill that helps your team or organization succeed above all else. Or is it the Nirvana of leadership that we all strive for?
Being a serving leader has been said to be the best type of leader that you can be. The question is, how do you know that you are a serving leader? Servant leadership skills are well-known, but how do we keep ourselves in line and on track.
Well, the answer is more straightforward than you might imagine. With so much written and posted about serving leaders and their attributes, getting a clear understanding of your path to becoming a serving leader is relatively easy.
How to Become a Serving Leader
As mentioned, there is plenty of literature on serving leaders and how to gauge if you are on track or not. However, trying to find your direction through the mountains of information could be a task all on its own.
After many books, articles, and blogs, there seems to be a common thread on being a serving leader. These are commonalities that give any who are interested a guideline on how to become a serving leader.
Lead from the Front, Guide from the Back
Serving Leaders keep their focus and keep their teams and organizations focused. They do this by enabling the team to see them working on their goals. They keep their people focused on the result or product of their efforts and constantly give them clear explanations of their respResponsibility
leading from the front means clear, undeniable clarity of the organization’s direction and focus, with each member knowing their part and understanding the value they bring to the team. Guiding from the back means you are always there to encourage and refocus your team on the goals of the team
Flatten the Organizational Pyramid
Many leaders have worked hard to get to the top, making us just a little entitled. Being a serving leader requires you to forget about the top and become part of the team so that they can relate to you as a team member, not as the “fearless leader.”
By making yourself part of the working team, you will not only inspire your team to work harder and better, but you will also be better at sharing your knowledge and skills with the team. Conventional management understanding is not part of a serving leader’s skillset.
They place themselves at the same level as the rest of the team to better be part of the top, a better leader. They are open to all suggestions and new ways of achieving common goals.
Praise and Congratulate
Serving leaders give credit where credit is due, always. One of the most powerful ways of building a great team is giving credit when someone performs well. And also, when they don’t do so well. The effort, albeit not successful, is still effort, and your job as a serving leader is to encourage the effort and congratulate them on their successes, no matter how small.
This will help you build a strong team that is always up for the extra hours because they know that you will be there every step of the way. Serving leaders are part of the team, not the leader of the team.
Excellence is the Only Standard
Serving leaders choose their team very precisely, and they are particular about the standard of work required and expected. When your team understands that they have been chosen for their excellence, they work harder knowing that you are setting the standard from the very beginning.
This is probably the most encouraging factor in the serving leader toolbox. You also create further opportunities for your team; their excellence means that they aspire to their greatness. Creating your perfect team means that your team will eventually go on their leadership journey. As a serving leader, you should use this characteristic as the yardstick for being part of your team.
Build Relationships, Achieve Results
One of the critical attributes of a serving leader is relationship building on equal footing. Your relationship with your team is based on equality and skills sharing. Thus they learn from your guidance without any interference of the unproductive mindsets. The old saying that business is about people gets deeper meaning in this context.
Your people are the reason for your success, and their contribution is more than just a skill or idea. Their contribution is their natural character, and so is yours. Once you start building meaningful relationships with your team members beyond the workplace, you will see a massive difference in your team’s results.
Are You a Serving Leader?
If you believe that you are a serving leader, you might want to double-check to be sure. Think of it this way, and if you have to ask, then you might not be. Servant leadership is much deeper than just a couple of skills that you apply. It’s a deeper consciousness that grows from humility about self and people’s understanding.
Let me explain. Being a serving leader means you have to be humble about yourself and build up others, your team, to greatness, thus achieving your greatness. Being humble does not mean you think of yourself as less than, but instead, you think of yourself less – taken from “The Power of Ethical Management” by Ken Blanchard and Norman Vincent Peale.
Another way of getting to grips with the question of Serving Leaders is by understanding the core characteristics of Serving Leaders. These are:
- Listening – active listening is a powerful skill. By listening to your team actively, you will be able to resolve conflicts, give direction, and clearly understand your team’s motivations.
- Empathy – understanding your team emotionally helps you understand their state of mind. This makes you a better sounding board for them and gives you more EQ information about your team.
- You are healing – not in the medical sense but in the mental and emotional context. The emotional and mental strength of your team will have a direct impact on their performance.
- Awareness of Self – your emotional state will be communicated in your interaction with your team. Being aware of how your mental state will affect your team helps you get the message across in a more productive manner.
- Power of Persuasion -serving leaders are persuasive and use this ability to encourage their team and get the best out of their team. This helps you keep the team on track and builds your expert status, making them more committed to the team and you.
- Conceptualization – your team has a goal, a dream. If you cannot dream big, your team will not achieve big. Your ability to dream big and connect those dreams to the current reality is a core function of a serving leader.
- Future Pacing – being able to predict the future by being in touch with the past and present. This is not a magical power but a simple ability to understand your team’s most likely future impact by being aware of past achievements.
- Responsibility – serving leaders take respResponsibilityspResponsibility the teams’ actions, good and bad, the team direction, and maintaining that direction. You become the steward of the team, and you care and guide them every step of the way.
- Encourage GrowthGrowth – you have built a strong team and perform well, but they will not always be your team. You encourage them to better themselves and build their path even if it takes them away from your team. Foster an environment of GrowthGrowth, not stagnation.
- Community Management – your team is a community, and they will muster behind you if you have theirs. Please become part of the community as a regular member, not as the leader, and your team will blow you away with their commitment and strengths.
These skills, attributes, or management styles are not just buzz words. They are fundamental skills that a serving leader will apply without even thinking. A serving leader will build a great team and build each member up based on their skills and abilities.
They lead from the front, but you will never find them; they will be in trenches with their team working on the problem and creating cohesion and success.
Black Sheep Community
One might think that a community aimed at bringing together the “black sheep” of the world might not be the best place for a serving leader, but you would be dead wrong. The world today distrusts leadership based on all the failed leaders that have come before.
You are a leader in the modern world requires, no demands that you become a serving leader. Regardless of where you operate, corporate, social, or just in your local community, you need to build your serving leadership skills before you can make the change that is needed.
So, maybe it’s time you interact with other aspiring serving leaders to become part of a team that will encourage and builds you up to be the best you. Check out the value chain by reading more here.