How Can I Help You?
A Guide to Servant Leadership
I start every conversation with my employees, bosses, and peers in the same way: “How can I help you?” Why? First, it yields better results than “What can I do for you?” or the always ill-advised “What can you do for me?” Second, it’s what Servant Leadership is all about. What exactly is Servant Leadership, you ask? It’s the hot new trend that’s been around forever. While it has been popular in charity and volunteer groups for quite some time, it’s now becoming popular in the corporate world.
“Change your thoughts, change your life”
One of my favorite writers and speakers, Wayne Dyer, once said, “Change your thoughts, change your life,” and Servant Leadership is all about changing your thoughts around what it means to be a leader. It’s about shifting the focus from serving the organization to serving the people in it – and If you let it, it will change your life.
Five Principles for Servant Leadership
If you’re ready for a shift in mindset, here are my top five principles for practicing Servant Leadership:
1. View leadership as a chance to help others.
2. Share authority as a means to build involvement.
3. Listen with a truly open mind.
4. Value personal growth and development above all else.
5. Know you’re not the most important person in the room.
As a religious studies and philosophies major, the Servant Leadership style resonated deeply with me, and I adopted it early in my career. My favorite book, the Tao Te Ching, is basically a study in Servant Leadership, so the approach made sense to me – and I can tell you from personal experience it creates powerful results. One of the primary teachings of the Tao Te Ching is to serve the people below you because someday they may be above you. Treat them well.
At the end of the day, even in business, it’s all about the people. That’s why the mission behind everything I do is to empower, enable and grow those around me to be awesome. I encourage you to do the same. So, in the immortal words of Bill and Ted: “Be excellent to each other.” And serve on, dudes!