As Simon Sinek said, “A boss has the title, a leader has the people”. I agree with this completely. Bosses are caught up in their ego, while leaders are caught up in the success of their employees. Leadership is about how someone interacts with their team and inspires them to join together to work towards a common goal. Every member of a team should feel like they have a voice and that they are leaders in some way and leaders should be concerned with impact, not status.
Have you ever worked with someone who did not even take the time to get to know their employees? Have you ever worked with someone who never asked for feedback or input from those “below” them? Or how about someone who would just not show up for meetings without having the courtesy to let others know they would not be attending? In my opinion, these are not qualities of good leadership. These are the qualities of someone who is taking their most valuable assets, their employees, for granted. Employees working under this kind of “leadership” will not thrive and are more likely to burn out because they do not feel inspired, appreciated, or connected to the mission of the organization.
I believe in servant leadership, where leaders respect and appreciate their employees. In this form of leadership, leaders listen to their team, give opportunities for others to lead and shine, and put the needs of their team before their own. They ask their team how they can help them. They work for their team. Servant leaders do not take all the credit for the “wins” and don’t point their finger at others when there are “failures”. Servant leaders know that they would not have the success they have if it were not for their team and they remember to acknowledge this often. They are willing to get uncomfortable, be authentic and own their mistakes.
8 Tips to Becoming More of a Servant Leader.
Value everyone on your team. Value each and every way that others contribute to the work you are doing. Notice them, let them know they are seen and let them know that they are important, regardless of job title or role in the organization.
Listen to your team. Give them opportunities to share ideas, feedback, and concerns. Be sure that this is a safe forum where they know that they can share their concerns without the fear of any negative repercussions. Even though you likely cannot implement each idea or make every change suggested, let people know that they are heard, that their feedback matters and that you appreciate their commitment to trying to better the organization.
Follow through. If you say you are going to do something, be sure to follow through with it. This will build trust and instill this value in your team. If you say you will be at a meeting, show up and show up on time. If you say you are going to implement a suggestion made my someone on your team, be sure to follow through in doing so. Let others know that your commitments to them are important.
Consider the needs of your team, not just your own needs. I have seen leaders that are only concerned with getting their own wins and what others can do to support them so that they achieve these wins. Servant leaders look at the needs of the team and do what they can to solve for those needs. Strong leaders don’t put their own needs in front of the needs of their team. Strong leaders don’t have the mentality that their team works “for” them but rather that their team works “with” them.
Provide opportunities for growth. This can come in several forms. It can involve moving team members into new roles when possible, however, it can also involve offering training, providing opportunities to take on new projects and opportunities to lead. It also involves making sure teams have the resources necessary to set them up for success so that they can do their job well. Team members are more engaged when they are growing and learning, and feel cared about ongoing.
Show appreciation. Good leaders, express appreciation for their team ongoing. They don’t just notice the big wins, they notice the effort that people put in on a regular basis and express appreciate for it. This does not need to take a lot of time; however, it goes a long way in keeping a team motivated and engaged in the overall mission of the company.
Keep your team informed. I have seen situations where leaders spend so much time in meetings and on conference calls talking about the vision for the organization, creating strategies to achieve the vision, and problem solving bumps along the way, yet they never share any of this information with their team. Instead, the team is left to wonder if things are going well, how they are contributing to the success of an organization and what the future vision is. In situations where leaders are not communicating about the vision and the overall health of an organization, team members will create their own ideas about this which is not healthy. Strong leaders keep their team informed and up to date about the bigger picture of the organization.
Engage in ongoing learning and personal development. So many leaders get a title and think they no longer need to develop themselves. Leaders who learn ongoing, who engage in ongoing personal development, and who share valuable information with their teams are more effective. Teams are inspired by leaders who continue to evolve and develop and are more likely to be inspired to do so themselves.
Organizations are stronger when the needs of the team come first and when leaders listen to their teams. They are also stronger when leaders provide ongoing opportunities for their teams to grow, develop, and reach their full potential. They are stronger when leaders do not put their own, selfish needs, before the needs of their team. Leaders who operate from a servant leadership model celebrate the wins as a team and are able to shoulder the blame when things do not go according to plan.
I do believe that leaders who operate within this framework have happier, more motivated, and more engaged teams. I also believe that leaders who operate within this framework are happier themselves, are more effective and are more successful overall.
Live your best boss lady life!
Karen Vincent Solutions