If you want an accurate predictor of whether or not a person will make a great leader, you should simply ask the person why he wants to lead others. Truly great leaders don’t aspire to lead so that they can have more power, prestige, perks, or money. Great leaders aspire to lead because they want to be of greater service to the greater good. They realize that they can accomplish a lot more with the help of others than they can alone. They apply the spirit of service not only to the mission of the organization, but also to the people on their teams.
Here are seven tactics to help you achieve higher levels of success by consistently serving and inspiring greatness in others.
SHOW THEM YOU CARE
You may have heard that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care—and it’s true. Unless your team truly believes that you have their well-being in mind, you won’t be able to develop the kind of influence that leads to long-lasting success.
You can start by simply checking in with your team to see how things are going. Ask if they’re happy and find out why or why not. This will send a clear message that you actually care, especially if you follow up with actions that address any sources of discontent. And don’t forget to frequently measure your own happiness and well-being, too. You’ll bring so much more to the table and be better equipped to serve your team members if you are healthy both physically and emotionally.
CREATE A HEALTHY CULTURE OF ACCOUNTABILITY
Being a servant leader doesn’t mean that you can’t demand excellence or hold people accountable. In fact, lax standards would do everyone on your team quite a disservice. If you allow mediocrity to be the standard, you’ll find it difficult to attract and retain talented people, and you’ll set each individual up for failure in the future. Set high expectations and let people know that they’ll be held accountable. But once you’ve established standards, you should make serving and caring for team members an equal or even higher priority. By doing so, you’ll earn loyalty and boost motivation, resulting in people who do things not because they have to, but because they want to.
ASK MORE AND BETTER QUESTIONS
Highly effective leaders tend to spend more time asking questions of team members than they do giving orders. But the questions aren’t about micromanagement or second-guessing. They’re about soliciting input or feedback and finding ways to be of greater service. Have a face-to-face discussion and ask about personal goals and goals for the team or organization. By obtaining and recording this information, you’ll be in an ideal position to serve employees by helping them achieve their goals.
SPEND LESS TIME TALKING
Great leaders also tend to spend less time talking during meetings and more time listening. Whenever possible, leaders should make an effort to speak last, speak less than 10 percent of the time, and refrain from offering personal opinions. By following these three simple rules, you’ll create an environment where people feel safe to speak up and offer ideas.
DON’T BE JUST A MANAGER
Be a mentor who is developing great human beings. Maybe it’s not just your team who’s feeling uninspired. Maybe you are, too. If that’s the case, make it your number one leadership goal to develop great human beings. In other words, don’t just evaluate your performance based on how well the team accomplishes the mission. Work to ensure that if any team member is asked the question, “Did you grow personally and professionally as a result of working with your leader?” the answer would be a resounding, “Yes!”
PLACE THE NEEDS OF THE TEAM ABOVE YOUR OWN
Self-preservation is a basic human instinct. We all want to protect ourselves, our positions, and our futures. The problem is, sometimes that impulse causes leaders to hold back from developing their team members. If they know everything I know and are able to do everything I can do, they might replace me! Well, yes—that’s precisely the point. Great leaders aren’t afraid of being replaced. In fact, they look to replace themselves as soon as possible by helping their team members develop the requisite experience and skills. Why? It’s a win-win. Think about it: If you empower the people you lead, the team will be much more productive and successful.
MEASURE THE THINGS THAT REALLY MATTER
Organizations measure things like sales numbers, expenses, and quarterly profits. We need to do a better job of measuring who we are and how well we treat each other. When we measure these things, we make a much better effort to improve in them. Remember, it’s who we are and how well we treat each other that drive long-term success. As a leader, seek feedback on how well you live the values of the organization and how well you treat the members of your team. You should also measure those things in your team members. ■
About The Author Matt Tenney is the author of Serve to Be Great: Leadership Lessons from a Prison, a Monastery, and a Boardroom. He is also an international keynote speaker, trainer, and consultant with the prestigious Perth Leadership Institute, whose clients include numerous Fortune 500 companies. For more, visit www.matttenney.com.
Modern Contractor Solutions, October 2014
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