In the end, everyone’s simply looking for a way to sweeten their deal. This is what our trainer at Bartell & Bartell shared while teaching us about personality assessment. He meant that if most people were honest, they’re just looking for a way to make things a little better for themselves. It was in this context that he explained Servant Leadership.
A lot has been written about servant leadership recently. It was actually popularized as a leadership style in 1970 by Robert Greenleaf with his book, Servant Leadership. The idea, shown in the picture below, is to invert the traditional leadership structure where the leader is at the top. Servant leadership places the leader at the bottom and his/her job is to serve those on his/her team or in the organization.
Our trainer broke down this idea in a simple and surprisingly insightful way. He said, “Leadership is helpfulness.” He explained that helpfulness is the heart of all effective leadership. If a person believes you are trying to help them, then they’ll follow you to the ends of the earth. On the other hand, if they believe you need them to do something that only benefits you, they won’t trust to follow you across the street.
It may seem simple, but I love the idea of leadership as helpfulness. I may not always know the right thing to say or do, but I can ask the question, “Am I being helpful?” Or, I can ask myself how I can help a person I’m leading. I get helpfulness. For most people, training in this character trait began in pre-school, where we learned the building blocks like sharing, being kind to our friends and taking turns. Little did my pre-school teacher know that she was instilling in me the building blocks of leadership.
This week, think about leadership as helpfulness. Whether dealing with customers, co-workers, or kids, think about ways you can increase your helpfulness to those around you. You may be surprised how willing others will become to follow your lead.
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