Every day seems to bring new ways to approach leadership. So, what does good leadership look like?
Leadership gets lots of ink these days. Google "leadership" or stop by the "management" section at Barnes & Noble and you'll find an overwhelming and confusing array of new strategies, clever ideas, and "proven" methods. But you can throw them all away if they don't start with the one foundational characteristic every great leader exhibits.
At the heart of leadership is service. Effective leaders are servant leaders. They lead by serving, and make the decisions that will best serve the mission, and the best interests of their followers and constituents. They understand the enterprise does not exist for their personal benefit. It is not theirs to do with as they please.
Here are some marks of servant Leaders:
1. Servant leaders believe their people are the keys to success: Leadership is actually all about followers. You're not a leader if no one is following. Recruiting, training, empowering and rewarding good people is the only way the mission will go forward successfully. Good leaders know this, and are committed to finding and resourcing good people.
2. Servant leaders believe the best idea should win, regardless of whose it is: Good leaders don't believe they have all the insights. They listen and champion what is best for the enterprise.
3. Servant leaders provide what their people need to be successful. They see leadership as finding people who can do the job better than they can, and letting them do it. They serve the enterprise best as they provide what their people need to be at their best.
4. Servant leaders lead by example: They model diligence, humility, joy, and a passion for excellence in pursuing and accomplishing the mission. They delegate, but never dump. They correct, but never deflate or frustrate. Above all, they see themselves as accountable to their team and to their mutual mission.
5. Servant leaders shoulder the blame for mistakes, while passing around credit for success: Good leaders realize they hold a unique position in the organization. They don't shy away from doing the hard things. They take responsibility when things don't go as planned, while still holding accountable those whose performance needs improvement. When things go well, they champion the team, and share the credit.
Team wins are the goal, and good leaders focus on ways they can serve the people upon whom that success depends. Servant leaders feel personal satisfaction in doing all they can to make their people successful. They are servants first, and as a result, people follow where they lead.