…is to Lose Yourself in the Service of Others”

As we continue our discussion of Leading at the Speed of Business, we look this month to expand on last month’s discussion in the Get Ready to Warp post. While last month’s theme was speed, this month we look at the concept highlighted by Mahatma Gandhi’s quote in the title, Servant Leadership. More specifically, we explore the idea that the leader of any organization can only be as effective and successful as the team they lead. The implication here is that no leader can keep up the pace of business solely on their own merits. They need followers who are fully bought in, physically and emotionally to the Vision and Purpose of the organization. In order to stay relevant at the speed of business, followers are the ones who will make it happen because they trust, and willingly follow, their leader!

So how do leaders create this environment of servant leadership?

  • Hire for Attitude ~ Building an effective and successful team begins with the hiring process. When looking at the key components of the right hire: attitude, knowledge and skill, attitude is 75% of the equation. While the importance of attitude is well documented in contemporary business and leadership literature, organizations continue to focus more on the 25%, knowledge and skill and dismiss or minimize the 75%. My experience tells me it is largely because hiring managers don’t know how to look for the right attitude or may not be totally clear on their own attitudes. If the main reason people end up being fired is attitude, wouldn’t it make sense to get it right from the beginning!
  • Bring out the Best in your Team ~ A question I often ask client leaders is, “Do they know the goals, motivators and/or strengths of the people who work for them?” I have stopped being surprised by how many cannot effectively answer the question and see it as an opportunity to ask the follow-on question of, “Why do they work for you?” If a leader wants to get the best from their team, it makes sense they need to know why the team continues to work with/for the leader. Once a leader has this deeper understanding of why the team works, they are now effectively equipped to lead in a way that brings out the team’s very best!
  • Lead with Head, Heart and Soul ~ Leading at the speed of business requires the leader to be multi-dimensional. Leading with their head, or what Aristotle called logos, requires an ability to communicate the Vision and associated Strategy in a logical manner. It is crucial the team knows what is expected of them from their leader in a way that clear, concise and complete. Along with logic, leading with emotional heart, or pathos to Aristotle, will help the team feel committed to the Vision and Strategy. The key is for the leader to lead with a level of emotion so the team truly buys-in, even if they might not all agree on how to accomplish the mission. Lastly, leading with soul reflects full on leadership with character. Aristotle refers to character, or ethos, as “…the most effective means of persuasion.” in his writings in “On Rhetoric”. To the extent the leader uses all three of these dimensions effectively will determine the degree to which the team responds!

To lead at the speed of business, leaders of any organization must build and sustain effective teams. Large or small, for-profit or non-profit, sustainable success, quite literally, depends on the success of the team as a whole; nothing more, nothing less!

How are you bringing out the best in your team?

Lead Well!