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Cornerstones of Leadership | Next up? S = Service

What Does It Take to be a Great Leader?

BECOME a better leader until you start BEING a better leader

implementing NOW the changes necessary to adopt the proven strategies of successful leaders

You might start by building on the ___________________

You’re gonna have to serve somebody

—Bob Dylan






What to do with one of the most popular letters in the English language when there are so many leadership qualities we could identify that start with “S”? A lot of tempting choices, but S = Service best expresses another inescapable quality of great leaders

Are you a Servant-Leader?

You’ve probably read something of the body of work around the servant-leader

Robert Greenleaf is generally credited with coining this term, and while he never proffered a definition, in his 1970 essay, “The Servant as Leader,” he offers this description:

“The servant-leader is servant first

… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first

Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead

That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…

Start with the premise of Service

This is the seventh article in our 10 part series, The Cornerstones of Effective L










In short, it is the service mentality of great leaders who recognize that their principal mission is to serve their constituents and to support their activities in every way possible

By starting from this premise, servant-leaders provide resources, counsel, direction and, yes, protection for those working to serve their organization’s purpose

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<h3>We still struggle with a Command & Control culture</h3>
<p style=Thirty years ago, and even today, we lived in more of a command and control culture

I freely admit I was front and center in that culture, in part nurtured by military service, but as well by the demanding and dictatorial bosses with whom I worked in my early career

My good fortune was that my next boss was the polar opposite of the previous leader with whom I served, and was the epitome of the servant-leader

He made sure that his people were supported, nurtured and challenged — but only in ways that served the individual and the organization and never in a threatening or intimidating manner

We all operate in a Service business, don’t we?

This should be an easy concept to grasp since we all operate in a service business of some sort

If you have customers or clients of any type, shape or size, whether in a commercial or not-for-profit organization, serving them is your principal mission

In fact, serving all of your constituents is really the ultimate measure of your success and will reward you and your organization more than any other single thing you can do

Companies like Zappos and The Container Store have focused on creating employee-centric cultures, and I’ve come to believe that the “customer first” mentality is looking through the wrong end of the telescope

The evidence is compelling that by taking care of our employees first and foremost, they will, in turn, take care of the customers and the other constituents that make our organizations run effectively

Walk the Walk: You’re only here to serve

I frequently invoke the phrase “I’m only here to serve,” and while it’s sometimes rendered with an impish grin and a little hyperbole, it does represent the essence of our roles no matter how it’s stated

Yes, it may sometimes sound a little gratuitous … but by relentlessly validating that approach with our deeds and conduct — by walking the walk — it creates an infectious attitude that’s always welcome

Serving is not always convenient

To serve also means you’re on call

It doesn’t mean that you must have an open door every minute of the day, but it does mean that you stand ready and willing to serve your troops, and recognize their needs don’t always come in handy doses delivered at a convenient time

The test of a true leader is the ability to be present, to be reliable and disciplined about how to serve her team, and her willingness to go the extra mile to make sure that she’s serving her team, when, and where needed

Serve your family first

So when you get up in the morning, serve your family

When you arrive at the office, serve your employees

When you’re in the field, serve your customers and suppliers

Don’t get run over, lose money or make accommodations that are unreasonable

Bring a positive “service” attitude as your sidekick and be willing to go the extra mile to serve everyone in your universe




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