A friend of mine is here from Australia this week (HOORAY!) and the reason we hit it off all these years ago can probably be distilled down to one concept: the ideal of individualism (as she puts it). What does this mean? It’s the concept of treating everyone as an individual and knowing to share power. You’re probably asking, what exactly is that?!
Knowing to Share the Power
As a leader, it’s a common feeling to relish absorbing the ‘power’ of that position and a have a sense of superiority. I’m sure you know those folks and you probably think they are complete a$$holes! If you aren’t familiar with the term servant leadership, it embodies the idea of treating others the way you want to be treated and taking care of them to lead a group towards a common goal. A servant leader doesn’t save this power for themselves because they learn to share it with their team using influence. Team members under a servant leader should feel some of the servant leader’s power and pull, which can make them feel more empowered in their place on the team and in their own abilities.
How does this ‘sharing of power’ take place? Here are some of the ways this happens:
- Asking employee opinions
- Working together on challenges or projects
- Taking a census, when possible
Why is this important? Sharing the power allows employees to feel like their contributions matter and that their input is valued. Man, that’s an amazing thing to see in action when this happens!! When we put someone else’s needs ahead of our own, we wind up getting more value in the end. It’s the idea of ‘giving love to get love’, a term another friend of mine uses for this concept. 😊
Placing Others First
As a leader, we can sometimes think in the ‘ME’ mentality and want to focus on our own agenda and needs. But in servant leadership, the leader focuses on the team first before focusing on themselves. The leader should focus on what the employee needs or wants, how they can achieve this and how it will make them successful in the long run. A leader should strive to develop relationships and even friendships with their employees and deliver feedback when possible. They must be able to set their own ego aside and realize that without their team of employees, nobody can be successful.
Putting It into Practice
So, what are the actual ways to go about doing this? Here ya go:
- Improve your listening skills and listen more than you talk
- Use persuasion and influence over coercion and positional power
- Recognize opportunities for team members to step up, learn and grow so they can build their skills and abilities
- Relate to folks on your team by getting to know them and what makes them ‘tick’
- Practice empathy by understanding their personal and professional challenges and obstacles
Truth be told, that last one is my ‘one to grow on’ as I still continue to work on being empathetic even though I’ve come a long way! I used to be so focused on getting the job done that I had trouble slowing down to put myself in someone else’s shoes and see how they feel. The good news is my husband is GREAT at this and I’ve learned a ton from him in this space.
Do you use any of these techniques with individuals at work to get the job done or do you struggle with this? I’m curious to know what you think and if you believe this is a good approach to getting stuff done. 😉
Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know!!