I have read a huge number of leadership books over the years but the one key thought I keep coming back to is how to practice servant leadership.
Servant leadership isn’t a style like being democratic or transformational. It’s a way of behaving in the long term that recognises you are here to serve others.
There are a number of practical things we can do to be a servant leader, many of which I have written about in other posts. But the two biggest things I believe we can do are to be a light and be a guide.
First, we need to shine light into the darkness and make the future ‘less scary’. Working with others to agree on the direction you are taking, you take shared accountability for decisions. This gives others the confidence to be bold and take the kind of risks that normally people shy away from.
Second, we need to guide others. Through questioning and listening we can agree shared plans that people will take ownership of. This encourages the kind of personal development that lasts beyond the task at hand.
Sometimes, this behaviour is confused with those ‘leaders’ who are invisible because they don’t offer feedback or critically challenge their teams. Servant leaders take on this responsibility but do so in a way that builds trust and persuades others to take action rather than waiting to be told to.
If you want to be my kind of leader- be my light, be my guide!