Expert advice on Business Leadership and tips on becoming a more effective Leader.

Five Ways You Serve Others As a Leader By Kevin Eikenberry

Recently someone asked what I thought about “servant leadership.”

My short answer was that using the word servant is redundant.

Don’t misunderstand, I believe in the concept of servant leadership, and what you read or learn about leadership from that prism is extremely valuable.

It’s just that I believe being of service is an underlying component of leadership.

Leaders, by definition, are trying to move towards a desired future – and hopefully a future that is desirable to those you are leading, Customers, and the community at large.

Taking actions to do those things is an act of service in itself – using your skills, knowledge, intellect and insights to create something greater than yourself.

As you read the suggestions below – consider how often you do, and how often you could, incorporate them into your leadership approach and style. Recognize too that they aren’t merely tactics to be deployed to reach a destination.

If you apply these ideas without a clear and genuine intention to be of service, you will be disappointed in your results and will have, in fact, reduced your leadership effectiveness and damaged your reputation.

With this background and these caveats, read the following suggestions, consider my questions carefully and, most importantly, take action.

– Listen. So few of us really feel listened to on any given day – in every part of our life, not just at work. When we really listen to people we are: serving an important internal need, building our relationship with them, adding to the levels of trust, and learning information, perspective and ideas that can move us towards the goals we are trying to achieve.

How completely did you listen yesterday and how will you improve on that today?

– Respond. People want us to listen because they want to be heard. As a leader we are asked questions about processes and procedures, about ideas, about challenges, about resources and so much more. For others to feel heard, we must respond. Perhaps our answer may not always be the one they hoped for, but from a perspective of serving those we lead we must respond to their questions and requests.

Are you answering all questions and emails in a timely (as defined by the asker/sender) manner?

– Engage. Engaging could be considered adding listening and responding together, but I mean something much more than simple mathematics. This idea isn’t about the important (but trendy) idea of engaging others. This is about looking in the mirror. Are you really engaging with those you lead? Do you share with them, have conversations with them and in general engage with them beyond the normal discourse of your work.

Are you proactively engaging with those you lead every day?

– Ask. Do you really want to know how people are feeling? Do you really want their ideas? Do you believe they have ways to influence greater results? If you do, when did you last ask? If you don’t, rethink your answer. Still not convinced? How do you feel when someone asks you a question?

Who (and what) will you ask right now?

– Care. When you think of people serving others, wouldn’t you say that underneath all of the behaviors and actions is a sense of caring? When we care about those we lead, we are serving them. When we care about who they are, their goals and aspirations, their values and their concerns, we are serving them.

This sort of caring doesn’t mean we need to (or should) become everyone’s best friend. It means that we care about them; person to person real caring. Done from the heart, acts of caring and kindness may make more of a difference in your overall results and productivity than any process map, Gantt chart or scoping document.

Do you care, and can others tell it from your actions?

While these may feel like “soft” or “touchy-feely” suggestions, that couldn’t be further from the truth. When included as an authentic part of your leadership approach, these will make a huge difference in the lives of those you lead and any of the overall results you achieve.

Start serving today.
Kevin Eikenberry is a leadership expert and the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group, a learning consulting company that helps Clients reach their potential through a variety of training, consulting and speaking services. You can contact him to learn more about how he can help you or your organization improve your skills and results.

-In your opinion what skills make up the best leaders?

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