By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC

There are bosses, and then there are leaders. Which one do you want to be? A boss is focused on gaining personal power and wealth. A leader puts the interest of the entire team first. Through the growth and development of the entire team, you as the leader gain more experience, knowledge, and recognition. People who focus on leading and supporting their team are seen to have more humanity and maintain better long term workplace relationships. This is a positive influence on your entire career.

What Is a Servant Leader?
The concept of being a servant leader arose in the 1970s. The idea is to make those under you more important than your own personal aspirations or the shareholder’s desire for wealth. Through positive support and growth, everyone benefits because the focus is on the betterment of everyone and not on just one person or a small group of people.

Focus on developing humility by being generous and humble. Don’t be afraid to admit your weaknesses. No one is perfect, and just because you’re the leader, doesn’t mean you never make mistakes or have any weaknesses. By admitting fault and weaknesses, you show those under you that it’s ok to make mistakes and makes you relatable.
Focus on giving credit where its due. Give your team credit for their ideas and effort. This will encourage them to speak up and work in the future. People want to be recognized for their efforts.

Everyone has a backstory. Approach everyone with humanity, empathy, and compassion. Understand that everyone has a background that shapes their point of view and perspective. By taking the time to understand someone, you can better identify their needs.
Understanding and getting to know each member of your team will help you to manage them better. It will also help you to find common ground and resolve conflicts.

Too often, corporate leadership thinks communication is relaying information to those they manage. But this is only half of the communication puzzle. As a servant leader, you should do more than effectively communicate at your team.
Develop your listening skills by focusing on your team. Give them 100% of your attention when they’re speaking. This lets them know you value their time, ideas, and employment.
Another important skill is to develop your persuasive speaking skills. This means focusing on speaking in a way that focuses on providing supportive facts and figures rather than commanding action. When your team understands why they’re doing something they’re going to work harder than just being commanded to do something.

Don’t be afraid to look at your own skills objectively. Identify what your strengths and weaknesses are. By knowing where you excel and where you don’t, you can effectively distribute the workload so that everyone’s tasks can get utilized in the best way.
Keep in touch with your emotions and understand what causes you to react emotionally. This will help you identify your emotions and prevent you from reacting with them. As an effective leader, you should make decisions based on logic and reason and not on your emotions. Practice self-discipline and set boundaries for yourself. This will ensure you take care of yourself so you can better take care of the people around you.

Develop Your Servant Leadership Skills
One of the best ways to develop your servant leadership skills is to communicate with fellow career-minded individuals. This will give you the opportunity to practice your persuasive speaking and listening skills. Focus on what others are saying and learning about who they are and their background. You can then apply these skills to your role as a leader.

Let’s get to work!
If you are ready to move your executive career forward contact me today at  [email protected]