One of my favorite authors on leadership, Simon Sinek, recently posted this on his LinkedIn account.
This is a powerful reinforcement of one of the central ideas I believe about leadership, that at its core, leadership is service. When we figure out how to serve those who are around us, we are better leaders. When we focus primarily on ourselves and what we are getting, or how well people are following us, our leadership is weakened.
So, what does it look like to serve others as a leader?
I'm so glad you asked!
In order to serve others, we have to come to a clear understanding of who are "the others." First, it's easy to think about serving those who are above us in the org-chart. After all, if we do a good job for them, we will eventually be rewarded. But when we serve those above us with that mindset, we are still serving ourselves! Instead, we need to learn to simply serve them, helping them succeed for their own good!
It also seems easy to think about serving those who are around us in the organization - our peers. But we need to be careful that we don't fall into a quid pro quo mentality here - I'll do this for you, expecting that you will return the favor sometime. If I'm only ever helping you, expecting that you will one day help me, that won't ever feel like my help is genuine and it won't be long before it may be refused! Instead, we need to learn to simply serve them, helping them succeed for their own good!
Another group that is more challenging to think about in this way is the people we are actually leading. Our tendency here is to think that these individuals ought to be serving us! After all, when we give them tasks to complete, isn't that what they are supposed to be doing, getting that done and bringing it to us?! While that is technically true, I believe great leaders look for ways to encourage, support, and help those they are leading. It's embracing an attitude that says, "I care about you, not just the work you can/should produce for me!" We need to learn to simply serve them, helping them succeed for their own good!
The final group we can serve are the people who are our customers or clients. Now this might seem like a no-brainer, because we even build this into the language we use. "We are providing them a service." However, I have seen a lot of organizations be so focused on the "service/product," they forget it is for a person! The truth is, this customer/client has a name and a story, and one of the greatest acts of leadership service we can provide for them is to actually see them, not just give them our "service." We need to learn to simply serve them, helping them succeed for their own good!
Got the pattern yet?! Authentic and genuine service in leadership is about looking for ways to "work with each other, for each other," helping others succeed for their own good, and it makes our culture stronger. Thanks for the reminder, @simonsinek !
Here's to looking around this week and seeing how we might lead by serving!
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