The Basics on Being a Servant Leader: Part 1
Nov 16, 2018
Written by Dr. Tony Celelli, SCS President
Leaders appear to be in short supply these days. It’s not that people are not in positions of authority or directing the workflow of others, but rather it’s that these same people fail to envision leadership as more than telling others what to do. When I consider what servant leadership looks like, it requires me to focus on the overall health and well-being of those to whom I bear the responsibility to lead.
One way servant leaders can determine the well-being of their employees is by reviewing what Patrick Lencioni says are the 3 Signs of A Miserable Job. It is tempting to internalize these signs as reasons why one can be miserable at work, but true servant leaders should consider the questions from the vantage point of those whom they lead. For the brave leader, consider asking your direct reports to answer these questions as an assessment of your leadership.
The first sign of a miserable job is anonymity. Nobody can feel fulfilled at work if they feel invisible, forgotten, or taken for granted. The power to overcome this problem is by getting to know your direct reports personally. Tactics of being cold and distant might protect you, but it will also lead to low morale. Another sign of a miserable job is irrelevance. Everyone needs to know their work matters to someone–a customer, a student, the public, the boss, etc. Servant leaders answer the “why” behind the “what” of the job. Your team won’t feel satisfied by their work if they can’t see how it makes a difference to someone else. Finally, everyone needs some form of measurement to assess their work. Measurement comes in both positive and negative feedback. If all you do is fuss about mistakes, then you are not providing sufficient feedback. Instead, servant leaders offer both positive and negative assessments so that the successes and the failures can be framed within a context of growth.
Servant leadership, therefore, starts with intentional actions to make the work environment better. You are not a servant leader because of position or title alone; you are a servant leader because of the manner in which you lead your team.
This article is part one in a multi-part series on Servant Leadership that was presented to a group of Denver County Sheriff’s Deputies.