The last few years have put unusual stress on professional and personal environments in ways most of us have never experienced. To make it even more challenging, being isolated in our homes and not able to collaborate in traditional ways have left companies and the people who are the heartbeat of those organizations left to resolve these challenges on our own. All this change directly impacts our sense of security, but it also creates an incredible opportunity to enhance our relationships, collaboration practices, and productivity.
Our foundations were rocked and upended in a way that left us yearning for a sense of belonging and purpose. Two important factors aid in our ability to adapt to new environments; those are leadership and tolerance for risk during uncertain times.
A focus on servant leadership has intrigued me for quite some time so I wanted to take a moment to discuss it and its benefits to personal and professional climates. Servant leadership is such a dynamic perspective and takes a strong sense of self awareness and ability to identify what your peers need from you in that moment. One needs to have an appetite to help others manage important and complex tasks as they take risks to do things that may not be comfortable for them.
We can all become a servant leader by demonstrating certain characteristics. Here are a few ways to practice:
- Be a good listener.
Servant leaders always listen to people before they speak their minds and encourage their people to share what they think and how they feel.
- Have empathy.
Servant leaders feel for their people and help lead them toward finding and resolving their problems and issues.
- Pay attention to those around you.
A servant leader is capable of understanding people with a focus on their emotional health and a strong sense of emotional intelligence. Important to also be aware of yourself and your people.
- Persuade without being forceful.
A good leader is capable of convincing people in different ways. Effective leaders never make use of their authority to make people do something but instead motivate and encourage people to take the desired course of action.
- Conceptualize and communicate a vision.
A servant leader can help build a concept for people. It’s important that this vision is built or inspired by person or team. This includes the task of creating a vision and mission statement to help provide a sense of direction for the entire team.
- Channel foresight.
A good leader can anticipate future events and how they will impact everyone. The ability to foresee is not a god-gifted talent but rather a skill that is acquired through experience, learning, and analysis of past trends.
- Practice stewardship.
Stewardship refers to accountability. It is the ability to take responsibility for the actions, behaviors, and performances of your team.
Good servant leaders are those whose focus is the people, and this makes the leader fully committed to their growth and development. To develop people, it is important to analyze their needs and build solutions with them.
- Build a community.
The leader should be able to walk with and among the people, so that the leader can help them by serving and building a community.
In assessing your ability to be a servant leader, or when challenging others to do so, consider the following:
- Am I aware of my own strengths and limitations?
- Do I take risks that benefit others?
Dig in a little deeper and try to define your goals. An important factor is whether they serve a purpose. Before weighing the pros and cons of how to support, first identify the overarching goal and vision. Define what you are hoping to accomplish and consider whether the intended result is aligned with your team’s goals, your company mission or vision, or with any issues that need to be solved. Smart risks serve your broader goals and vision.
During these times, it’s important we regularly assess what’s important to us and pay attention to those things. There is certainly risk to trying something new but this is an example of the intention of your original goal. Focus on them and make them a priority. Don’t take your eye off this opportunity until you are done with it, then wrap it with a bow and move to your next opportunity to learn and lead.
*Director of Sales, Walmart – Hamilton Beach
*Title and company of the author reflect their position at the time article was written
The opinions expressed here by guest bloggers are their own, not necessarily those of Stout Executive Search