Having the Confidence to Serve

Do you have the confidence to serve?

Leaders tend to talk a lot about “servant leadership.” I actually think we talk too much about it. Servant leadership is something that we do – not something we just talk about. I guess that’s where the term “lip service” came from.

Serving others has always seemed like a humble, gracious, and submissive type of role to me. I still agree that those words help set the tone and describe the meaning of servant leadership, but I want to toss in another trait of a servant leader that isn’t talked about much.


Serving and confidence are a beautiful mix. You see, serving others does indeed put you in a submissive role. But if I have weak confidence, I may view serving as something lowly. I may feel belittled or think that it’s beneath me. I may claim that I get paid too much money to waste my valuable time on such a remedial task!

But if you’re confident, you serve your team with a different mindset. You realize that serving isn’t belittling; it’s how we relate and how we influence. Serving is how we knock down barriers and draw people to us.

Serving others can be as random as bringing a cup of coffee to a teammate on a cold winter morning. The fact that you were thinking of your co-worker is a way to serve their needs.

Go Beyond the Cup of Joe

But let’s look past the cup of coffee. As a leader, how are you serving your team’s leadership growth? How are you preparing them to win without you? Let me be clear, I am not belittling a gesture like bringing a teammate a cup of coffee, but serving your team goes much deeper than that. Confident leaders strive to make their team stronger than themselves.

I’ll never forget the words I heard come out of another titled leader’s mouth. We were discussing leadership training and career growth when this person said they were afraid of financially investing in their people because if they left the company it would be a waste of money. Wow, this person was not a confident leader! He was choosing not to serve others because he feared their growth.

So, how are you serving your team’s professional growth? Do you give your time to making sure you are serving the team in a way that creates growth?

Be confident enough to make those around you stronger. Serve your team in a way that will benefit them long after you leave, and serve your leaders in a way that if you leave, your team will be ready to lead and serve without you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • […] for the day? • Are some individuals deserving of your service, while others aren’t? • Do you have the confidence to humble yourself and serve others? • Are you willing to serve if no one will notice? • Do you […]

  • […] is a great graphic and comparison between Egoism, Utilitarianism and Altruism.Leadership With Sass: Having the Confidence to Serve Linda Sasser wrote this great post on an often overlooked attribute of Servant Leadership – […]

  • Anyone can command, but it takes a real leader to serve. This has been my perspective for some time now. When you think about it – it’s easy to lead by command and control – it takes no skill and, frankly, delivers poor results over time as a result. For sustainable success, organizations need real leaders – with confidence – as you highlighted so eloquently.

    A great post – thanks for sharing Linda. I will include this in the February edition of the Servant Leadership Observer, likely out next week.

    • Linda Sasser says:

      “It’s easy to lead command and control” you’re right! it takes no skill to lead or manage that way. Thanks Ben

  • Linda says:

    Thanks for your comments Richard.

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Lucca Leadership UK, luccaleadersireland. luccaleadersireland said: http://www.leadershipwithsass.com/2011/01/having-the-confidence-to-serve/ […]

  • Richard Gorvett says:

    Hi Linda,

    Isn’t it a shame that the term “service” is often perceived as subordinate and demeaning, linked to a sense of hierarchy and superirity, and that the person serving is doing so to their own detriment. But then there are terms like “public servant”, “civil servant” etc, where if we stop to think about their meaning, they are actually rather noble and empowering. Beyond being a powerful and empowering tool, for me service lies at the very core of leadership. What and who one chooses to serve may vary – the shareholders, yourself, your team, the business etc – but without service there is no leadership. The funniest thing is that at its most baselevel, it’s actually really enjoyable to do something for someone else. It’s not demeaning at all – as long as you’re doing it out of choice rather than because you have to, doing something for someone else is a win-win. It makes them happy and it makes us feel good too. Of course then come the interesting questions as to whether what we are doing is actually serving a need or rather serving some kind of egotistical desire for martyrdom. But when we have the presence of mind and the awareness to see what is really needed, and then we act to serve and meet that need, it feels great. And that’s the case whether in business or aid work, whether you’re a teacher working with a pupil who is struggling to understand, or a salesman trying to close a deal. You can do it through force, or you can do it through taking the time to genuinely understand the need of the person in front of you, which requires both awareness and genuine interest, and then acting to serve it. I used to work with a great organisation called Lucca Leadership (www.luccaleadership.org) – a charity offering leadership training to aspiring young social entrepreneurs all over the world. Both service and awareness (self and social) lay at the very core of the leadership philosophy they were putting up for consideration. For me at least, it had a stunningly transformative effect on how I saw myself, my capacity to lead, and my approach to leadership.

    If we all chose to serve each other a little more often, not out some kind of sense of duty or moral responsibility, but simply because we realise it’s a win-win, wouldn’t that make for an interesting world… 😉

    Interesting stuff! Thanks for the article.


  • Linda,
    I think you are an authentic leader. You see leadership from many different angles. I appreciate your passion for great leadership and your heart to teach others!

  • Bill Moore says:

    I know one of the things that has tripped me up as a leader is the drive to be efficient; I can be so task-oriented that I fail to focus on serving.

    This is good for me to be thinking of this morning!

    • Linda says:

      Bill, I also have some of those same tendencies. One thing I did that helped me make it a habit was (this is anal so hang on. ha!) I created a spreadsheet with all my direct reports and some up and coming leaders that I wanted to serve well. Then every Friday I scanned the list and noted how I might have served them out of the ordinary. I was ok if I didn’t serve everyone every week, but I made note to be intentional about those I may have overlooked. Then I made a to-do list and put it in my outlook for a reminder.

      Hope this helps. Thanks so much for your comment.