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Uncommon Leadership

Manage things, serve and build people

Do unto others as we would have them do unto you is a principle most of us are familiar with. Many leaders have embraced this approach to leading with a servant attitude. It is however not easy and requires giving of oneself, placing others first, it can be demanding and yet edifying. Today’s leader who wishes to be a servant must stretch his or her thinking to encompass broader-based conceptual thinking. Robert Greenleaf coined the term servant leadership and like stewardship, it assumes first and foremost a commitment to serving the needs of others as one would like to be served. Emphasizing the use of openness and persuasion, rather than control. To do unto others as you’d like them to do unto you in business requires great foresight, professional maturity and awareness. The exceptional people who practice this principle learn from the lessons from the past and understands the likely consequence of a decision for the future and are keenly aware of the true characters of others allowing them to view and approach their interactions with teammates, colleagues from a more integrated, holistic position.

Values are valuable

The characteristics that are important to be a successful, nurturing leader include empathy, foresight, stewardship, listening and commitment to the growth of others. These characteristics are by no means exhaustive. However, they do serve as some of the values embedded in the golden rule, and that are key qualities for leadership. Servant leaders do not accept mediocre performance from individuals rather seek to create an environment with an empowering atmosphere of trust and a sense of belonging; enabling continuous introspective learning especially through periods of organizational transformation.

An example worth following

A rider on horseback, many years ago, came upon a squad of soldiers who were trying to move a heavy piece of timber. A corporal stood by, giving lordly orders to “heave.” But the piece of timber was a trifle too heavy for the squad. “Why don’t you help them?” asked the quiet man on the horse, addressing the important corporal. “Me? Why, I’m a corporal sir!” Dismounting, the stranger carefully took his place with the soldiers. “Now, all together boys – heave!” he said. And the big piece of timber slid into place. The stranger mounted his horse and addressed the corporal. “The next time you have a piece of timber for your men to handle, corporal, send for the commander-in-chief.” The horseman was George Washington, the first American president.

We can all make a lasting and positive impact on people and organizations when we lead selflessly. Although a great deal has been written about leadership, still, not many emphasize leading by the golden rule. It is possible that most have become so concerned with their own careers an self-growth that the needs of others are seldom important unless there is something to gain for one-self.

Discerning leaders have the secret sauce to winning

Such leaders feel better about themselves and benefit from key insights that make them more effective and more productive in what they do even though they spend a great deal of their time sharing and helping others with new ways of doing things. Organizations that want to improve the quality of their staff, to be respected for their treatment of employees, and, to increase overall creativity and, productivity should consider the servant leadership approach. Caring and nurturing leaders create the foundation for more considerate institutions long term.

Servant leadership is not for the fainthearted and well worth it!

If you are leading a team today; take a moment for a self-reflection on your interactions with team members and colleagues… are you doing any of the following?

  1. All leaders should strive to be servants in the best sense of the word.

  2. Believe the duty of stewardship reciprocates leadership

  3. Treat every employee with respect and support them to do meaningful work.

  4. Lead by example

  5. Understand that good intentions are not enough—behaviors count.

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