Being of Service in Leadership

In a recent blog named “To Lead/Teach – First You Have to Learn How To Follow“, I shared a story about a lesson learned regarding being a follower instead of a leader. The story was about a volunteer engagement where I learned to let go of my ego and expectations in order to serve someone else. It ultimately served me as well. That blog generated some very interesting conversations regarding the concept of Servant Leadership and fears of letting go of control in order to empower others. The main question raised was, “If I am the decision maker and all of the results are ultimately my responsibility, then why would I give up control to others?”  There are great lessons and distinctions to be made here.

  1. Was the example I gave of serving Amanda about giving up control? From my perspective, absolutely. After weighing all of the options and possibilities of potential outcomes, I was the one who chose to serve her first. I was first and foremost there to serve her. She won and I won. She felt empowered to hold on to the small part of her life that she could control. My win was less stress, seeing her happy and having a clear understanding of my role in that situation.
  2. How does this apply to life and business? This Inc. Magazine article communicates quite well the benefits of a philosophy of Servant Leadership for many very successful leaders and companies. These leaders understand that by meeting the needs of their ideal customers and employees first; and that by holding to their values of service, empowerment and inclusiveness; the end result will be a win-win for everyone. I have a client who has a banner in their facilities that reads, “If Our Customer Is Not Happy, No One is Happy.”
  3. If you are willing to step outside of your comfort zone and reach a new level of responsibility, and if you have the right team and ideal customers with shared values, Servant Leadership is simple and freeing. There is no question of giving in or compromising your values.

We are volunteers in all parts of our lives; in business, with family and relationships. We volunteer to stay where we are which can lead to complacency or more stress and dissatisfaction. We also volunteer to move forward by changing the way we think, to learn new and better ideas, to take risks and to be willing to learn in order to be the very best we are meant to be.