Leadership is service. I’ve heard those words for years but never really understood them until I found myself outside looking in. My title at my last job before going independent was “Director of Communications” – we never totally figured out what that meant. However, along with communication responsibilities, including blogs, video, and social media, I wore other hats, like many in small to mid-sized businesses. I was privileged to work with several levels of employees on leadership training. I also recruited, interviewed, and was part of the hiring process for quite a few employees.

The thing is – I had zero direct reports. For the first time in 30 years, I “managed” no one, but I did lead. Outside looking in, not being a manager, I believe I have become a better leader.

Although I don’t manage anyone directly, I have a vested interest in many of my clients, and from this perspective, it’s easier to see the most influential leaders are leaders who serve. Leadership is service.

Leadership is Service

How to Become a Service Leader 

Listen Better

My listening skills are challenged at best. To put others first, I’m concentrating on what they say rather than what I want to say. Asking open-ended questions helps.

Be More Considerate

These words are so common they’ve lost their meaning. Being considerate means considering what others want and need and how your actions, or mine, may affect their desires.

Think Past the Moment

What may seem appropriate for the moment may not be when viewed through a wider lens. Ask yourself, “How important is this now?” What are the consequences of my actions?

Set Your Ego Aside

Let’s face it: part of why you became a manager is probably ego, but ego will often get in the way of effective leadership. Others are best served when the ego is set aside.

This is my Achilles heel. It’s the big one. I want things to go my way because… I’m special. I want to share information and show how knowledgeable I am. I’m working on setting my ego aside. How about you?

When your actions are thoughtless and hurtful, an apology never brings back the time lost in regret; it can be too late when you realize what you’ve done. It would be unrealistic to think I’ll never put myself in this position again, I will. But I can work towards reducing it, can’t I? In the long run, putting others first is in your best interest and theirs. Leaders put others first. Be a leader 24/7.

Remember that People Are More Important Than Projects

When anyone manages a project, it’s almost natural to focus more on the plan than how team members fit the plan. However, success may depend more on how team members execute the plan than the plan itself. Don’t make people fit a plan; make one that fits them.

Help Someone Everyday

As a manager of direct reports, it’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day battle and forget the big picture – the more you help your team members, the more cohesive and effective the team will be.

Seek Others Advice 

When putting out fires, it’s easy to forget to seek input. By involving others in the plan, you may improve the plan and their support of the plan. Make team plans, not your plans.

Share Everything You Know

There should be little on a need-to-know basis; if it’s useful, share it. Help others avoid mistakes, pitfalls, and problems. Teach others what has worked for you.

Leadership is Service 

Service is not intangible; it’s giving, caring, and sharing. The best leaders are leaders because people matter to them. As a leader, there’s no greater reward than watching others grow, partly due to the leader’s direction and influence. A true leader is not served – a true leader serves. Who have you served today?

How Can I Help You?

I like to help people and organizations, but I have three criteria I consider before taking an assignment – I believe in what the organization stands for, I know I can help, and it looks like fun. If you have any questions, Contact Me. 

So, does your business have a management training plan? Because if not, many organizations, large and small, use my book, The New Manager’s Workbook, a crash course in effective management, as the basis for their leadership development program. Check it out.

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy Leaders vs Commanders: Which Approach Drives Success?

Photo by Mapbox on Unsplash