Effective Leadership: Learn to Lead by Serving

All over the headlines we see people who are ‘leading’ us. Each name has a background and hopefully some history of service. Service to other makes average leaders into great leaders.

“How do you learn about leadership by serving?” you might ask. It is really quite simple. First, you must be willing to do the things you are asking other people to do by following you. Rolling up your sleeves, getting your hands dirty and breaking a good sweat engraves a picture into the mind of an employee or subordinate.

Second, you must try to empathize (not sympathize) with other people’s perspectives. To empathize with others only means that you can understand where they are coming from, not agreeing with how they got to that position. Empathy can open the door to mentoring and personal growth for both you and your direct report.

Third, you must be willing to mentor your employees. Being a friend is accepting a person how they are and not expecting them to change. Being a mentor is not accepting a person how they are and expecting them to change for the better. Mentors push people to become as good or even better than they are at what they are doing. Mentors often take the place of a mother or father in an individual’s life.

Fourth, you must be willing to listen with an open mind. Solving the problems, formulating an action plan or the like are not what leaders do around their subordinates. They listen, give constructive criticism and leave the door open for further assistance or guidance. Leaders help to open minds in order to envision creative solutions.

Fifth, you must be willing to ‘take the heat’ when a direct report makes a mistake. What better way can a leader show that they are looking out and serving their people? Remember that you should not be a doormat for every problem, but you should address the ones that could stop your team from rising to excellence.

Try these principles out for you to see if they are right or wrong. Contribute to the concept by offering additional insight. Help fine-tune these thoughts so that they work with your personality. Who knows, this nuggets might be just what you needed to go from being a leader to being a great leader!