What makes a person go all out for someone else? What is it about a person that endears him or her to others, so much so they are willing to follow him or her wherever they lead? There are two common characteristics these types of leaders possess:
- Empathy – they have compassion for others, are able to feel what others feel and express concern for others sufferings and misfortunes.
- Courage – they display integrity and uphold truth at the point of trial.
In other words, if someone feels you genuinely care about them AND witnesses your standing up for what is right to defend them in the middle of adversity, then you will be a person they want to follow. Sure, there are other leadership styles, however this is the only style that is endearing. This is a true servant-minded leader.
I’ve witnessed this type of leadership on all sorts of teams, including families, companies, communities, sports teams, armed forces and organizations of all shapes and sizes. Now, let’s focus on leading a business and the pursuit of excellence in serving customers.
A servant-minded leader treats employees as internal customers and believes when they serve employees well, employees in turn serve external customers well. Servant-minded leaders nurture people and give them tools and training. They understand when you don’t do this and expect people to deliver results, then you’re not running a company, you’re running a slave camp.
People are to be nurtured, not used. Servant-minded leaders help employees realize their full potential as humans because they know employees help drive the business to its full potential. Servant-minded leaders train for skill and character because purpose is found in character.
Servant-minded leaders are endeared to people who want to follow them because they exhibit empathy and courage. They believe that excellence is not achieved by random happenstance, for if it is to be achieved at all, it must be a deliberate pursuit. The standard of excellence must be set for the output and conduct of everyone, including the leader. Employees who are nurtured to develop their competence and character within the context of clear a performance measurement framework willingly adhere to and are motivated to exceed the standard.
Servant-minded leaders know it’s not about them, but it starts with them. They are leaders people want to follow because they care and can be trusted.