There are days when the last thing I want to do is pretend I am a Power Ranger. There. I said it. Sometimes I don’t enjoy the activities my kids beg me to do with them.
But I do them anyway. Usually. Why? Because I love my children, and I’m willing to put their needs ahead of mine. Most of the time. I know it’s something I need to do, because I want to serve my family, and I want to be a good leader.
Serving comes first
Any good leader will tell you serving comes first. Robert Greenleaf said you have to make a conscious choice to lead by serving.
This can result in a major sacrifice, or a minor one. I can choose to sacrifice my half hour of relaxing with a cold drink when I get home to spend 30 minutes as a Power Ranger with my son. That’s a small sacrifice to me, but it has huge dividends, as my son truly knows I care about him.
Being a servant leader means investing time into others so they, too, can grow as leaders and as human beings.
I’m willing to invest my time to build trust, with my children, my wife, my employees and my clients. The reason? “No one cares what you know until they know that you care.” -Benjamin Franklin
Lou Holtz, famous college football coach, said that all teams ask three questions of their leaders: Can I trust you? Do you care? Are you committed to excellence?
Sincerity breeds trust
If people get the feeling that we’re not sincere, they won’t trust us. My son has no reason to think I have anything but his best interests at heart. When I’m a Power Ranger, I’m all in. Not because I love being a Power Ranger, but because I love my son. I’m not expecting a payout of any sort when I invest this time in my children, but very often I receive one that consists of love and trust.
We don’t do things for the payout. At least not when we have a servant-leadership heart for people. I don’t get my wife a glass of water without her asking because I want her to do the same for me at another time. I do it because I love her and want her to know I want to take care of her and be there for her.
The team comes first
The second definition of the verb sacrifice is to “give up (something important or valued) for the sake of other considerations.” In the case of servant leadership “other considerations” refer to those we are leading through our service.
A servant leader takes the team into account first. Are they succeeding? Are they in the right role? What can be done to help them achieve what they want from the role, from the company and from me as their leader?
The platinum rule
The golden rule says “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” When it comes to leadership, it could be worded this way: Lead others the way you want to be led.” When it comes to servant leadership, the platinum rule is a better one to follow, which says “Lead others as they want to be led.”
We have to find out what makes people tick. Some people can’t stand public praise. Others thrive on it. We need to know who is who and act accordingly, even if we don’t like it.
Want to get a head start on knowing your employees or co-workers? Click here for a free tool to get to know your employees/co-workers better. “The right people are an organization’s greatest asset.” -Matthew Kelly, The Dream Manager
What about at home?
At home, it’s about treating your kids fairly, but not necessarily equally. They are so different! I have one who loves to draw, one who loves to play act and imagine, another who loves to play sports and two others besides!
Yes, sometimes they have to compromise. They can’t always get everything they want. But more importantly I shouldn’t try to get what I want either. Sometimes I have the grace to be a Power Ranger anyway, but other times I don’t, even though I know I should.
These are the little battles we should try our best to win, because it’s winning many little battles that allow us to win the war.
Challenge #11: Find out what makes your employees or co-workers tick. Then let me know what you are going to sacrifice this week to make things better for one of them.
Who is Doug? Doug Kisgen is an author, entrepreneur and personality expert. His primary work? Raising his five kids with his wife of 20+ years in the hill country of Texas.
For ways to put these ideas into practice, check out Doug’s book, Rethink Happy: An Entrepreneur’s Journey Toward Authentic Joy, available as an e-book now, or pre-order the paperback!