Leadership is about a lot of things, but the most effective leaders know that their job is always to serve others. It takes a special kind of person to do this because it requires a specific balance to manage other aspects of leadership while becoming a servant to those around you. When leaders focus on being a servant first, they do more than just serve their coworkers and clients, they also serve themselves.
Leadership is about being a servant first. -Allen West
Why Being A Servant Is Important
Because effective leaders are a wonderful blend of many different qualities, they are able to see that leadership is more than simply being a boss. In order to be successful, those around you need to be successful as well, and they can’t do it alone.
By serving those within and outside of the company, a leader who strives to be a servant is able to be an asset to every single person he comes across. If there were no leaders who acted as servants to those around them, businesses would have some serious productivity issues—among other things.
Most importantly, leaders who strive to be servants don’t become less effective leaders as a result. In fact, they become better ones.
Qualities Of A Servant Leader
When a leader decides to serve those around him, there are certain qualities that he exhibits. First and foremost, a leader must be humble. He doesn’t feel like he is better than everyone else and he works hard to make sure they don’t feel that way either. He is careful in his interactions with clients and customers to ensure that while his demeanor is strong, it is also modest.
Servant leaders are also selfless individuals. They don’t have an agenda and aren’t focused on advancing their own interests. They know that be having others in mind when they work, they will create a culture that promotes trust and care. Truly caring about helping the people around you reach their full potential will not just make you a better leader, it will push your career forward as well.
Also, a servant leader is personally invested and always involved. He strives to be a confidant for the people he works with and values the opinions of those around him. This special kind of leader knows that it takes the group to develop the most inspired solutions, and he knows that his support is essential for the success of those around him.
Become A Leader Who Serves
For too long we have viewed “leaders” as the most cut throat individuals who push others out to achieve their own personal ends. For too long the “leaders” have been considered the ones who do whatever it takes to get the sale or close the deal without any thought for the effect of these decisions on others.
No more. Now we know better. We know that leaders are only leaders because they serve and inspire those around them. Leaders who strive to be servants will be the ones with strong employees, strong businesses, and strong growth.
How your business grows is largely dependant on the people you have around you. You may think that you need a bunch of mindless drones to do your bidding, but that simply isn’t the case. Having the right team members is exactly what it takes to propel a business onwards and upwards—team members being the key word here. There’s a difference between an employee and a team member, and it makes all the difference for leaders looking to grow businesses.
What’s A Team Member Exactly?
The difference between “team member” and employee is important, but it’s not immediately apparent to most. An employee performs tasks, does what he is told. An employee comes to work every day, does what needs to be done and goes home. A team member has a much different attitude.
A team member is personally invested in the business. He believes in the mission and shares the vision. He knows that when the business does well, it’s good for him and he wants to work toward making the business a success not only for himself, but for the people around him. In short, a team member simply sees his work differently, and as such, approaches it differently.
Employees suck money out of a business, but team members are personally invested in seeing the business grow, which is why every business needs a team that shares the vision. The people you hire are going to be instrumental in the success of your business, so don’t just hire anyone. Take the hiring process seriously.
For some companies, they see someone who appears to be a good fit and jump right in. That’s a mistake. It’s always best to take the time to learn—in detail—about this person on whom your company is going to so heavily rely. Don’t just learn about the resume; find out what makes this person tick. Learn about their family, their passions, and naturally, learn about what drives them.
Effective hiring is a process, not a race. Finding the right people to share your vision and work hard for the good of your company will make all the time spent completely worth it in the end.
Your Company Deserves The Best
Whether you are just starting out or you’ve been around the block in business once or twice, having the right people around you is essential. Part of being a good leader is surrounding yourself with the right team members. Don’t be afraid to hire people with more knowledge, more education, or more experience than you either. It won’t undermine your work as leader, it will only enhance it.
A strong leader knows his own weaknesses and doesn’t hesitate to fill in those gaps by hiring team members who thrive where he struggles. Together, collectively, you should have what it takes to take your business to the next level. Effective hiring and bringing on strong team members who share your passion and vision will help take your business to new heights you never dreamed it could achieve.
Team members, not employees, will push to make your dreams in business become a reality.
We talk frequently about having integrity. It’s very much considered to be a personal trait, something that you personally possess and practice, but businesses need to have integrity too. Why isn’t anyone talking about that? Failed attempts at integrity will mean failed attempts at properly growing relationships, business, and profits. There’s no easy way out, only a right way to do things.
What Does Integrity In Business Look Like?
In his book Entreleadership, Dave Ramsey defines integrity as “the state of being whole or undivided”. This needs to be discussed openly among team members in the business so their is a shared understanding of what integrity looks like not only in the workplace, but for the business itself.
There are several common truths that are shared across different peoples and cultures, and these truths should also be recognized in business as well. The first step is identifying your values and then reviewing them with team members. Once everyone has a thorough understanding of what integrity means for the business, they will better be able to function in a way that honors those values. If they don’t do that, their employment should be reconsidered or training may be necessary.
Plenty of businesses start out strong. They discuss values and build a foundation for their business to grow upon. It’s a great start, but as time goes on and challenges arise, the foundation starts to crumble. Businesses begin thinking about what is right for the business, not necessarily what is right, and integrity becomes less and less of a priority.
Integrity should always be a priority. Always. If you have strong convictions and practice integrity or being whole and undivided in your personal life, you are certainly more likely to do so in business. The people who work hard to stay unshakable in their values and consistent in their actions are likely to be the ones who become leaders and carry that integrity on into business practices in an effective and meaningful way.
Take The First Steps
Whether you are a seasoned entrepreneur or just starting out in the business world, you can benefit from understanding integrity in business. Start by evaluating yourself and your personal goals, dreams, and values. Then, take a long hard look at your mission for the business. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to decide how you will get there.
Write down your business’ mission. Make sure your team members don’t just understand it, but are onboard with it. Talk about what these goals mean for each individual person and how they will contribute to reaching them in an honest way. This is the perfect time to ensure that your employees know that integrity isn’t just about their personal behavior, it’s about the “behavior” of the business as well, and they contribute to that.
When you make these goals and expectations clear, you are one step closer to building an effective business based on integrity and passion, two ingredients that are essential for success. Set a solid foundation and be sure the entire team is working to keep it strong.
Ray Kroc once said, “The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.” This is powerful, because too many times a “leader” will expect more from the team than they themselves give. A leader has many roles to play, but what the level at which the leader sits has a great deal to do with the standards they set and expect themselves to maintain. But what does it take to be that kind of leader?
The Importance Of Self Awareness
The only thing more difficult than discovering your faults is discovering your virtues, but both are needed for a leader to be truly self aware. When you are capable of rightly pointing out what you do well and where you can improve, you will be able to start thinking about the standards you need to set for yourself.
Self awareness is a skill that not everyone possesses, so if you are able to understand yourself well, you can use that knowledge to help yourself do better as a leader. Through self awareness, standards can be properly set.
Set A Course For Success
To be the best leader that you can be requires a great deal of effort and foresight. Those who can effectively evaluate themselves and set a course for meaningful change are usually the ones who end up on top, so set yourself on course to achieve success.
Start by defining standards for yourself. Create a spreadsheet and write down all the standards you will hold yourself to. Next, specify what you will do to ensure that those standards are always met.
For example, you want to be sure that you always follow through on opportunities. Great job! Now you must identify what steps you’ll take to ensure that you do this every single time. Maybe you leave yourself a post-it note on your desk to remind yourself that you need to follow up, or you set a memo in your calendar. Maybe you make phone calls every Thursday morning. When you can stick to your own plan, others will take notice.
Be An Example Worth Following
A leader should always be an example for the people around him. When you are committed to maintaining high standards, you are giving the people who work with you a great example to follow as well as a list of standards that they should strive to achieve.
Make sure you are always meeting the high standards you’ve set for yourself, and then you can use those standards to as a guide to work with the team members you are responsible for developing.
When you set high standards for yourself, you are inadvertently setting high standards for your team members as well. Show them how it’s done, and you may become a leader worth following. High standards will be what it takes for all of us to succeed.
What do you think determines the quality of a leader? What high standards do you think are most important for a leader to maintain?
Your system is perfectly designed for the results you’re getting. What do you think of that? It’s true, and not a ton of business owners or leaders want to hear it. It’s a very simple concept, and all leaders need to think about how it applies to them and their business if they want to start seeing the results they truly desire. Only change in your systems will create change in your results.
We usually start talking about this principle when it becomes apparent that the leaders of a business are not impressed with the results they are seeing. They start to question a myriad of things from their employees to the lunchroom policies to the copy machine’s inability to do one complete job without getting jammed.
None of these things are to blame. Because your system is designed in a way that sets the business on the course which renders your current results, the system is really what you should be looking at. Our favorite definition of insanity (because there are many) is repeating the same actions over and over and expecting a different result. Similarly, why would you have the same systems and processes in place and expect something more favorable to happen?
Ultimately, you can’t talk your way out of a situation that you behaved your way into. If you want out (and we think you do) you’ve got to act—and act differently at that. Let’s talk about some systems that receive a failing grade:
- If your business is spending more money than you are earning, no amount of investments, new loans, or hard work will change that. Your system is perfectly designed for bankruptcy.
- If your employees are allowed to take advantage of your generosity, you’ll probably find that your system is perfectly designed for a lack of productivity.
- If your business doesn’t spend time nurturing clients, then your system is perfectly designed to fail at obtaining repeat clients.
When you find your business here, it can be hard to figure out exactly how you got there, and that’s frustrating. That’s usually the point where leaders go looking for a source or even a person to blame. The fact is, however, that what you must really find is the flaw in the system.
Change Your System Get Results
The first step toward seeing better results is to identify the results you’d like to see. Sit down with a business partner or a trusted advisor and get cracking. Once you’ve discovered one or two results you believe can be achieved, think about what actions need to be taken to get there.
How do those actions differ from the ones you currently see? This knowledge is invaluable; it will help you make the changes necessary for your own system to start seeing results you desire.
So next time you find that you aren’t seeing the results that you think you should be getting, think about actions are being taken that produce that undesirable result. When the system is perfectly designed to achieve negative outcomes, it’s time to start focusing on changing the system.
The word leader conjures visions of a single person taking the reins and leading the charge. While leaders do need to step up and tackle lots of different types of situations, the ultimate goal of a leader should always be to unlock the potential of those around them. Only with the mindset of helping others will a person in a position of power truly become a leader.
The Role Of A Leader
Leaders have many job responsibilities. Part of being an effective leader means having exceptional problem solving skills. Sometimes it means being good with people. Leaders typically need to be innovative and have the foresight to determine how their decisions will affect the business as well as the people around them. There are way too many roles to list, but ultimately, leaders are responsible for those around them.
A good leader will guide and shape, aid and push, but at the end of the day, the true goal of a leader is to unlock the potential of those around them.
The Goal Of A Leader
This goal is clear. Building a strong, highly qualified team is what will really make a business a success, but that doesn’t mean every team member who comes your way is already a shining star. If you’ve done your job during the hiring process, however, they’ve got what it takes to get there.
The next step is unlocking all that potential within. I won’t lie to you, it’s going to take a great deal of hard work. It’s going to be frustrating at times. It’s going to seem like you want them to succeed more than they do. It’s going to require you, as the leader, not just to push your employees, but also to push yourself.
When all that potential begins to shine through, you can entrust your team members with more daunting tasks and responsibilities. While this may seem like a bad idea—as if guiding those team members would take away from what you do—what’s actually happening is that you are freeing yourself up to realize your full potential. You can stand tall and tackle things you never had the time or the brain power to ever consider before.
And the cycle goes round and round. They get better, you get better, and on and on until there is more awesomeness than any business could reasonably handle.
Unlocking What Lies Within
Seeking out qualified team members and investing your time into their personal success can be tricky, but that’s why you’re in a leadership position, now isn’t it? By giving your team members to the power to think, speak, act, react, and even fail, you are helping them each to become the best version of themselves both in and out of work, and there’s no greater gift. With some serious hard work and plenty of guidance from you, the team members that you are responsible for will be able to unlock potential no one could have imagined actually existed.
What are you currently doing to unlock the potential of those around you?