Let’s get a little nerdy today and dive into servant leadership. I’ve heard too many off the wall things said about it that I know many of you will appreciate some clarity. Servant leadership is not a preference thing like ice cream or cookies, it is a specific leadership model with specific behaviors associated with it. I’ve literally had to refrain myself from running up to a stage to take the mic when hearing servant leadership being encouraged as a means for keeping people from leaving a particular organization. It couldn’t have been further from the essence of servant leadership, which is all about serving others for their sake, not the organization’s (in fact, a servant leader would encourage someone to leave if their current assignment wasn’t the best fit for them). So, let’s dive in.
Does it feel like things fall apart when that one person isn’t there? Or do you have plenty of people that can fill in? Do you know if the strength of your leadership bench is costing you?
When you don’t have a deep leadership bench, and people need to be gone, it causes unnecessary stress and anxiety for you and everyone around you. The last thing your team members want to hear from you is that they can’t be gone regardless of their circumstances. A close second is that you’re leaving a vacancy unfilled. More people than ever are burden by their workloads because of unfilled vacancies.
How much are ill-equipped team members costing you? Are you overwhelmed and frustrated by constantly needing to find and train new people? As a leader, it can be hard to know where to prioritize your time and resources. You want to be leading a team with high morale, people who are committed to the mission, and you’re not constantly stuck filling vacancies (let alone having to motivate people all the time). But how do you know if you’re investing in the right things?
Conflict, do you have a love or hate relationship with it? For most people, it depends on the families they grew up in and how conflict was viewed. If you’re from the Midwest (or Bold North as I prefer), you likely grew up in a culture where passive-aggressive responses reign and conflict is swept under the rug. The reality though is that conflict is essential for growth, personally and professionally. Let me demystify conflict for you and dare I say, encourage you to even promote it?
From chaotic schedules to needing to swoop in to “save the day” to rogue goals and strategies, one culprit is behind them all: values. Whether working solo or leading a non-profit or Fortune 500, when the values in use are not clear, neither is anything else.
Question whether or not you’re a leader? If you have influence over the direction of a group of people, you are a leader. That does not mean you a good leader, but it does mean that people are looking at you to help them achieve a common goal, and therefore makes you a leader (even if momentarily). If you work ‘alone,’ but have customers (find me someone who works but has no customers…that would be a hobby, right?) or a graphic designer or a web designer or a printer, you function in a leadership capacity to a degree.
And those people you lead crave one major thing: clarity.