“Servant Leadership.” It’s a popular term thrown around these days. We tell our people they need to be servant leaders. We constantly ask our colleagues and customers to tell us how we can serve them. And when we do help out a coworker or satisfy a customer, we are tempted to give ourselves a gold star and a big ol’ pat on the back for being such good servant leaders.
I’m not knocking the idea of servant leadership. I believe in it and have been blessed to be a benefactor of it from leaders and followers. However, because the term is so easily spoken, I thought it might do us good to conduct a gut check on the subject by looking at two vital components to servant leadership: attitude and actions.
• Do you wait until you “feel” like serving before taking action?
• Does your desire to serve others depend on your mood 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 plan to serve with the expectation of the favor being returned?
• Are you open to serving others when it will inconvenience you?
• Are you willing to take risks that will benefit others but won’t benefit you?
• Do you first consider how your actions will impact you, or your team?
• Does getting your work done come before leading your people?
• What are ways that only you can serve your team?
We can all benefit from an honest assessment of our attitudes and our actions in relation to servant leadership. If we only serve others when we feel like it, we let our fickle moods and attitudes dictate our ability to lead our people. If we only serve others when we stand to benefit, our people will see through our disingenuous actions and we’ll damage any trust that we’ve built over time. However, if we serve our team with the right attitude and with actions that are focused on “them,” we’ll earn our teammates’ trust and loyalty, and we’ll model the true meaning of servant leadership.