I recently received this question and thought it would be a good topic for today. It is one that I have struggled. As a student of leadership and through my practice, I have learned that,
“Good leaderships begins inside, before we see change outside.”
How we get stuck in the wrong leadership mindset?
I faced a big challenge in finding my voice to lead because early in my career I took to heart some poor advice. I bought into the popular view that people with a bigger title are more successful.
It took me several years to own the decision I made to follow someone else’s path for me. I’ve learned since that developing into an authentic leader you were designed to be requires we draw our own map and there is hard work involved.
If I can encourage you to do one thing above all else, it would be for you to identify what gift you have that adds energy to yourself as you use it. Next, invest that energy in serving others. When you do this I believe that is where you will find the leadership growth you need that will make you more effective.
There are a lot of voices out there today telling us what we should do. Instead of doing that, let me offer you 4 ideas for you to explore and see if any of them might trigger some new ways of approaching how you lead.
4 Ideas to explore
1) Use your gift:
We aren’t ready to lead until we have something to give. We can’t give something to others we don’t possess. Cultivate your gift, grow it, and share it so it multiplies.
2) Find your voice:
We won’t become the leader others will follow until we discover our own voice. Please don’t use someone else’s voice. We can never do what someone else is good at better than they can.
3) Driven by generosity:
Our motivation must be felt by others if we expect to lead them. It is not about us, it is about those we choose to serve. Regardless of what we receive from others, when we give our best we can live without regret.
4) See others without judgement:
Our attitude towards others must be biased towards seeing the best in them. Trust comes from our commitment to believe the best.
One of my dearest friends asked me for a working definition of servant leadership, so based upon all that I have read, learned and practice, let me share you my current working definition. It is what I do my best to practice.
“The Servant Leader leads by example and serves a cause bigger than themselves. They empower, encourage, and expect individuals and teams they lead to do what they are designed to do and holds them accountable to grow, mature and return value to others within agreed upon boundaries. The servant leader is motivated to serve first and is deeply committed to help grow their followers; helping them mature into leaders that consistently return value to those they themselves have committed to serve.”
My working definition fits into the framework I developed a few years ago to help me and others unpack doing and becoming better leaders in practical ways. I write about these ideas every week. I’m interested to learn what ideas are most interesting to you.
The shepherding framework in a nutshell
- Shepherding yourself: This is where leadership starts and develops
- Entering the world of others: We do this on their terms
- Helping our people connect with us: Sharing our values to see if there is a match
- Create safe environments: Where else does the best work get accomplished?
- Leading sacrificially: Who would follow someone who is out for themselves?
- Keep the team on track: The hardest part for most of us.
- Achieve the remarkable: Performance comes as a result of the right people doing the right work. Could you expect anything less than remarkable?
I will be unpacking some of these ideas at the upcoming PMI Symposium in a couple of weeks. I hope I might see you there.