Are You Willing to Pay the Price?
By: David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

Eugene Habecker, the author of The Other Side of Leadership, wrote “The true leader serves. Serves people. Serves their best interests and in so doing will not always be popular, may not always impress. But because true leaders are motivated by loving concern rather than a desire for personal glory, they are willing to pay the price.”  Pay what price?  The price of servant leadership.

In the 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, John Maxwell identifies five characteristics of a servant leader.

  1. Put others ahead of your own agenda – This means much more than delaying your plans. It means taking a real interest in the needs and plans of your team and working with them to help them achieve their goals and ambitions.
  2. Possesses the confidence to serve – Are you confident enough to let others do some of the things that you might like doing? Are you confident enough to let others share opinions and ideas, or do you always need to be right?
  3. Initiates service to others – Successful leaders look for ways to help others. They see each day as an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the people with whom they come in contact, whether the person is on their team or not. They just have a bias for adding value to others.
  4. Is not position conscious – I have had the privilege of working with some amazing leaders. When working as a toolmaker, I worked for a VP of Manufacturing who would start his day by walking through production before the hourly staff would arrive and make sure their workstations were ready for them. He would be moving product and getting components ready, so they could start their day off well. One day I saw him with a box full of toilet paper and a toilet brush. His staff loved him, and they would have done anything for him.
  5. Serves out of love – Servant leaders are motivated by a real concern for others and nothing more.

Growing in servant leadership is quite simple. Begin to value people more than processes. Look for ways to perform small acts of kindness to those you meet. Things as simple as opening doors for people and smiling as you do it begins to establish a new mindset. Look for ways to mentor your team and make their jobs easier. One lesson it took me too long to learn is to walk slowly through the crowd. In fact, I still struggle with this because I am always in a hurry. Slow down and be available to people. Take the time to see what is going and on, and then offer to help.

Your team is waiting. Will you pay the price of Servant Leadership? The benefits are a more productive team and a much more rewarding career.