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Genuine Servant Leadership Makes Winners of Us All

Updated: Jan 4

“If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.”
 – Booker Washington

Leadership is always changing and shifting gears because society is always changing and shifting gears. From business, the political arena, local and global economy, it’s the savvy intuitive servant leaders who manage to navigate changes and stay ahead of the curve. The more the world changes, the more somethings remain the same, one thing I’m referring to is the powerful influence of leaders who serve their people.

There’s a story of a young emerging leader succeeding his father during turbulent changing times who had an opportunity to consolidate his power to establish his administration and gain the loyalty of the people.

An influential delegate and his constituents met with the young incoming leader requesting he ease the heavy tax load and difficult work environment they struggled with under his father’s administration, and in return they would throw all their support behind his administration.

The young leader consults with his father’s advisors, who suggested he serve the people by working out a deal with the delegates and win their support, he then consults the younger advisors who had grown up with him and follows their advice to double down on his father’s policies.

Both the young leader and his advisors underestimated the influence of the delegate and his constituents, failing to serve them by working out a deal caused a split and the loss of more than eighty percent of his following.

Good Leadership

The basic principles of leadership are unchanging, regardless of who we are and where we go. Concepts and ideas change from year to year, as do the cultural norms from nation to nation, but the principles of leadership remain the same.

Leadership is the foundation of all progress in life. Whether you’re a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, an educator, entrepreneur, local church Leader, leading a non-profit, or raising a family, leadership skills come into play.

Current leaders developing their skills and that of their emerging leaders to strengthen and expand their organizations for the benefit of society will all grapple with change. In an ever-changing world, it is comforting to know that one thing always remains the same, genuine servant leadership.

Genuine Servant Leadership Thrives In All Environments

“The best servant leaders are always leading servants.” 

Doing for others what you prefer others doing for you sets the tone of your future effectiveness. John Maxwell says, “Leadership deals with people and their dynamics, which are continually changing. They are never static. The challenge of leadership is to create change and facilitate growth.”

To successfully create change leaders must have the buy-in of their people. The heartbeat of servant leadership is always about placing others before ourselves. Every generation has organizations with different takes on top-down positional leadership like the young leader in our story.

Rather than demonstrating humility, gaining the influence of his people empathizing with them, our young leader wields the power of his positional authority, a costly mistake from which he never recovers. Commenting on servant leadership, Peter Drucker says, “They are humble – allowing their behavior to communicate their values and their appreciation for their people – and they are vigilant – in promoting the right attitude and belief systems that encourage others to succeed.”

The Attitude of Servant Leaders

Mark Cole explains, “We’ve all encountered people in service positions with poor attitudes toward servanthood: the rude worker at the government agency, the waiter who can’t be bothered with taking your order, the store clerk who talks on the phone with a friend instead of helping you.

Just as you can sense when a worker doesn’t want to help people, you can easily detect whether someone has a servant’s heart. When you encounter a worker, who has the attitude of a servant leader, everything changes.”

Three Habits to Help You Become A Better Servant Leader

Brian Tracy says, “Your rewards in life will be in direct proportion to the value of your service to others.” Mark Cole gives three simple habits to developing a servant leaders’ mindset.

1. Perform Small Acts of Kindness

As a leader, it’s easy to get busy and forget about the people around us. When was the last time you performed small acts of kindness for others?

2. Learn to Walk Slowly Through the Crowd

The next time you attend a function with a number of clients, colleagues, or employees, make it your goal to connect with others by circulating among them slowly. Focus on each person you meet. Learn names if you don’t know them already.

Make your agenda getting to know each person’s needs, wants, and desires. Spending time with people creates not only the desire to serve them but the connection and know-how to serve them well.

3. Move into Action

If an attitude of servanthood is conspicuously absent from your life, the best way to change it is to start serving. Feelings will follow footsteps—if you’ll begin serving with your body, your heart will eventually catch up! Then, keep at it until your heart desires to serve others well. (1)

“The first and most important choice a leader makes is the choice to serve, without which one’s capacity to lead is severely limited.”
– Robert Greenleaf

(1) Mark Cole serves as the CEO of all John Maxwell’s companies

*** This article was authored by John Picarello, Chief Leadership Officer at Lions Pride Leadership Co.***

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