One of the most inspiring and encouraging things that I see on my travels is a servant leader in action. If you are attentive, you can appreciate it in any industry. Just last week I saw it at Chick-fil-a as the manager led his team during the hectic lunch rush, at Marriott as the general manager stepped in to help her crew clean up after breakfast and at Target as a young team leader helped guide his people through a rush of guests. Servant leadership isn’t leadership from a chair. It’s rolling up your sleeves and getting out there with your people and making things happen. Let’s look at a few ways that servant leaders take action.
One of the keys to a being a great servant leader is the willingness and track record to participate in the activities of people that they lead. I have a servant leadership question that I ask during my interviews. 90% of the time I hear something along the lines of, “I wouldn’t ask anyone to do something that I wouldn’t do myself.” While that statement checks the box, it doesn’t show how they participate. Just because someone is willing to clean the bathrooms at night doesn’t mean that they actually do it.
Servant leaders participate and don’t rely on their intentions. They rely on their actions. It’s healthy to do mental checks from time to time to ask yourself, “Am I participating as much as I think I am?” My own personal struggle here is not at work, but at home. I have to make sure I stay on top of this during my downtime or it slips on me.
They are other-focused.
A servant leader is one that puts others needs and desires above their own. We’ve all come across people in both our personal and professional life that put their own goals and desires above everyone else’s. They may like to think that they are servant leaders, but they are not.
How far are you willing to go to take care of others? What would you give up personally to help someone meet their own goals? Both are great questions to ask yourself as you evaluate how you lead yourself and your people.
By the way, if you are looking for a quick way to get buy-in with a group. Let them see and realize have you live this out and they will become quick fans and followers in no time.
They build people and community.
These leaders are intentional in growing and developing others. They help people grow not only in their professional life, but their personal life as well. They build others level of confidence, self-worth, and other soft skills in addition to job-related skills. The main action here is to set aside intentional time to spend with and grow others. The setting can be both formal and informal.
Servant leaders also build a community by connecting their team together in a meaningful and lasting way. They encourage the team to step in to help each other and build a community that is bigger than themselves.
Take action and be a servant leader that inspires others to follow you.
Make a better tomorrow.