Serving is an essential leadership action. It’s the first thing I tell new leaders to do when they begin a new job: serve. Don’t worry about your title or your salary. Just serve; the career advancements and the money will follow.
But serving isn’t just reserved for the newest members on the team. Serving becomes more important the further your career advances. Yet, can we be too servant-minded? Is there a thing as serving too much? Well, yes, actually there is. Although I’d be cautious to suggest anyone slow down on serving, there are some instances when we need to stop and reflect on our motives, our relationships, and our results when it comes to our eagerness to serve.
4 instances when our serving may be doing more harm than good:
- When we’re allowing for poor performance or low standards. We want to help, so we keep filling in the gaps and fixing reoccurring mistakes. Instead of learning from you, the teammate just starts relying on you to catch their careless errors.
- When we’re supporting bad habits. Flexing for a teammate who arrives late to one meeting is accommodating. Flexing for a teammate whose presence or work quality is unreliable is enabling.
- When we’re concealing mistakes or protecting from consequences. There is a difference between helping a teammate work through a mistake and covering for them. As their leader, you don’t throw them under the bus, but you should hold them accountable to their performance.
- When we allow our own work to suffer. The most servant-minded colleagues can inadvertently allow their own production to slide as they spend more and more time serving their teammates.
When we serve beyond our capacity – further than we realistically can or should for the benefit of ourselves, our colleagues, and our organization – we risk causing more harm than good. Our colleagues become overly dependent. We become bitter and resentful.
Serving should help give those you serve a boost. We serve to help lift someone, not carry them for the long-term, and certainly not to cover up for them. We need to remember our core purpose behind serving: to help make others better.
How are you making others better this week?