Leading as a Servant

CEO and Founder, A Real Change International
5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

We live in a world where the chase for power is increasing. Someone is always getting thrown under the bus so another person can get ahead. The “top of the food chain” philosophy that has infected our workforce and leadership has thrived on the accumulation of power and practices to get ahead.

Yet when all is said and done, have we really gotten ahead by this change?

There is a better way. It’s called Servant Leadership, and it can be applied in workplaces and homes. It is an act of faith, best defined by coming alongside others, leading by example and helping the people around and under you. Using it allows you to go further in all areas of life, rather than pursuing positional leadership that dominates and dictates your employees.

These are old-fashioned values, relying on the keys of serving others: listening, having empathy and working in a culture that upholds a commitment to the growth of the people while simultaneously growing the company.

Related: Why Faith Belongs In Your Workplace

When we use our faith to empower people to be their best self in the workplace, we in turn empower the corporation. We can’t keep hiring people who don’t care about their work and we can’t keep leading people by executive level “breast feeding and diaper changing.”

Love, and leading with a servant’s heart, is something we must be committed to. It’s going to take humility to see lessons in the workforce that can help us improve rather than constantly trying to protect ourselves from anything that causes tension.

One note: This takes a personal, as well as professional, commitment. Our personal lives always mesh into our corporate lives and we can’t keep acting like they don’t. That’s why faith at work will work if it’s working at home first. That’s why unbelief at work destroys, because it’s been killing our personal lives as well.

Related: Setting Boundaries To Be a Better Leader

So, how do we apply the principle of Servant Leadership?

Do the work. Be willing to go to the root of things and do whatever it takes to become your best self and serve those around you with love. We can’t keep believing that it’s impossible to teach an old dog new tricks. Motivate the dog properly, and it’s amazing how fast they’ll change. Just try giving an old dog steak to reinforce a new ‘trick’ and see if it works.

Learn to listen. In my career as a copywriter and digital-media expert, one of my core competencies has been the ability to listen to what the marketplace is asking for and then to give it to them in a very unique way, driving customers to urgently make a change. We can do this as well in our servant-leader lifestyle by just taking the time to listen. Don’t tell me you don’t have time. Everyone has 24 hours in a day. Make time. Evaluate the things that you say are important and make a commitment to listening at home, at work and even to yourself, the things you’re saying all day, and make it a priority to get really good at this.

Stop trying to do things you’re no good at. Stewardship is a principle of servant leadership many forget. We need to learn to steward, manage and govern what we’ve been given. Don’t do the things you’re not good at. Get someone else to do them. Manage well your responsibilities because authority in what we do comes from responsibility. Get masterful at what you know how to do and you’ll not only enjoy your life and career more, you’ll increase your value to those around you. When we add value to everyone we encounter, we all win.

Learn to adapt. Things are changing drastically and speedily in the workplace. Social media is a dominant means of communicating, and we can’t keep acting like it’s not important. It’s either helping your organization or destroying it. Another set of rules when your employees can and can’t tweet is not going to cut it. Listen to why they turn to Twitter during work hours in the first place! Maybe your next marketing campaign will get some valuable insight and you’ll get to know your staff better.

Our personal lives are intertwining with our corporate lives. No way around it. We can’t keep separating our lives as if we’re compartmentalized robots. Strong people make strong leaders and strong leaders do better in the workplace when they work on all areas of their life. Lead by serving.

Related: How to Let Go of Employees With Love and Dignity


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