Let’s talk about three types of leaders.
There is the leadership dictator.
He gets the job done but leaves a wake of low morale. His people follow him, but only out of a sense of fear and resentment. He demands respect but breeds contempt.
There is the friend.
This is the leader who is loved by everyone, a “buddy” to all. This is great, except that when it comes time to make tough decisions and enforce policy, this leader will find he has something in common with the dictator – he is not respected. This renders him ineffective.
There is the third kind – the most effective kind. This is the servant leader.
Though this sounds like an oxymoron, like two different ends of the spectrum, it is not. A true leader is one who serves. This leader gets the job done and does it with the love AND respect of his people.
What are the hallmarks of a servant leader?
1. He has confidence.
This is not the braggadocio confidence exhibited by the dictator, which only makes the team feel intimidated. This is a quiet confidence that comes from knowing the job and what needs to be done, knowing the people and their strengths, and knowing the resources needed to find answers to issues. This is the kind of confidence people rely on when times get tough. It’s the leader who can calmly and quietly take charge in a crisis and provide guidance to his people. A servant leader makes the team feel secure and empowered.
2. He puts others ahead of his own agenda.
Unlike the dictator who is all about himself and what’s in it for him, and the friend who really has no agenda, the servant leader has a plan but he is careful to be considerate of his people. He uses his work to build his people and not his people to build his work.
3. He seizes the opportunity to increase how he can serve.
A dictator wants to be served by his people. But a servant leader will look for opportunities to serve his people. He will find ways to reward their hard work and recognize their efforts. He will provide the tools for them to do their jobs with greater ease and efficiencies. When needed, he will roll up his sleeves and get to work right alongside the team.
4. He has a genuine care for the members of the team.
We all know employers who declare their greatest assets are their people but don’t mean it. A true servant leader will genuinely care for his people. And the fact is, his people will reciprocate. I’m thinking of a business owner whose factory burned down. With great personal sacrifice, he saw to it that all his employees received paychecks until the factory was rebuilt and they could resume work. You can imagine the loyalty of that workforce for the man who did this.
Think about the leaders you’ve known – the good and the bad. I venture to guess that the very best leaders on your list are servant leaders.
And now for the big question:
Which kind of leader are you?