Excerpt from Dare to Serve: How to Drive Superior Results by Serving Others
Dare-to-Serve leadership is based on the idea of servant leadership. It’s about having the courage to put people first. When I talk about this concept, I often get a question about results- can serving others drive productivity and growth? My answer is an unequivocal yes!
But taking this path requires more than ‘saying’ you serve others. It requires a shift in attitude, thinking, actions, and leadership approach:
- Decide to think positively about the people you lead
- Decide to be a leader who serves others over self-interest
It is both courageous and humbling to remove yourself from the spotlight and shift your focus and energy towards serving others well. This is how you create an environment for superior results.
But even leaders who commit to be Dare-to-Serve Leaders have this question in their own head – what’s in it for me? How will I benefit?
You’re not a bad person for considering this question. You’re just like everybody else, you think of yourself first.
So, let’s tackle the question.
Here are the five benefits to you for becoming a Dare-to-Serve Leader.
Benefit to You #1
People will tell you the stuff you need to know. Self-centered leaders don’t invest time in getting to know the people. When the people don’t know you well, they won’t tell you what is going on in the organization. You miss out on mission-critical facts that you need to make decisions. Serving the people well requires that you spend time knowing the people well.
Benefit to You #2.
People will more likely follow your bold vision. As the leader, you are expected to create the vision for the organization. No one will debate that. But you don’t actually implement the vision; you need followers that believe in your vision and are motivated to do the work. To be highly motivated, the people need to know that you have their best interest at heart. Serving the people well requires that you take their interest into account as you lead the organization.
Benefit to You #3
People will actually do the stuff you need to get done without a lot of reminding. Self-centered leaders who insist on making all the decisions make the people “leader dependent;” the followers are unable to perform on their own. They wait for the leader to tell them what to do. They do the minimum, unless you follow-up repeatedly. They don’t grow in capability and add value to the organization. Serving the people well requires that you empower the team, let them make decisions and let them lead.
Benefit to You #4
People will grow in capability and improve the performance of the organization. Self-centered leaders create anxious, unsafe work environments where there is no benefit seen for taking risks. The environment is governed by threats and fear; a scarcity mentality prevails. When work is all about the leader’s own ambitions, there is no good reason for the team to stretch and grow in capability. On the other hand, if you serve the people well, you will provide an environment of personal growth, promotion opportunities, and the fun of “winning” together. Everybody wins together.
Benefit to You #5
People will watch out for you – and protect you from yourself. Self-centered leaders create the conditions for a lapse in personal integrity. The leader who receives little feedback becomes from the team is overly confident, without checks and balances. The leader’s compass becomes “do the right thing, as long as it advances my career.” This blind spot causes the leader to miss the truly moral decisions that are right for the people and the enterprise, regardless of cost to self. The leader who serves the people well, finds that the people protect you from yourself; they have your back.