Servant leadership is about egoless leadership. If I am here to ensure the success of my team, not dominate my team and look good, I will bring more excellence to my partnership building, I will listen better, I will take actions that are more considerate of the whole, not just myself. In their hugely successful body of work, the guys from Vital Smarts, those who brought us Crucial Conversations and Change Anything, stated that the core ingredients to having a breakthrough tough conversation is Mutual Respect and Mutual Purpose. When I am in servant leadership mode, I am overtly demonstrating to others that I not only hear them (key to de-escalating arguments), that I also want them to have the best for themselves as well.
Covey talks about the trust accounts we establish in all relationships. When I roll like a servant leader, I am making massive deposits into those accounts – when I need to make a withdrawal (asking for extra, having a moment of tension), I will know the account is in good shape because I have been behaving in a way that has been filling the trust account.
No disrespect to any other airline, but how many of you have traveled on Southwest lately? What do you experience that is palpably different from others? – humor, individuals are empowered to bring out their unique personalities, they set up a system of seating that allows us to co-operate with one another and succeed. How about leaders that have changed our world? Gandhi? MLK? Nelson Mandela? Malala Yousafzai? Branson? Gates? Their commitment was to serve others first.
This is a tough one in our society and the culture of North America – this is not the default of what you were modeled by most leaders. It’s not what you see on TV for the most part, it’s not what most leaders are doing (regardless of what they are saying). Check yourself for a moment, let’s get real. Besides your family, have you done anything for your team lately that would be in the realm of servant leadership? Is it how you roll, or is it just a thing you do for the holidays?
Ask yourself, “Can I, as a leader, succeed without my team?” That contemplation is in and of itself a great way to gauge and value your commitment to servant leadership.
Share an example of how it has worked for you?