Why Leadership Is About Serving Others & Not Others Serving You
Why Leadership Is About Serving Others Not Others Serving You
By Mark Wager
A common complaint I hear from workplaces is that the Manger in charge is too authoritarian, telling people what to do rather than asking them, taking credit for other peoples’ good work while at the same time distributing blame whenever anything goes wrong. Ultimately this kind of Boss places their own personal interests ahead of those of the team which is unfortunate because this behaviour is the complete opposite of what Leadership is meant to be about.
Let me share a story with you that explains what Leadership is. There was a group of tourists that wanted to climb a mountain. The route was hard and they hadn’t climbed a mountain before so they hired a guide to help them. They viewed the guide as a servant, someone who would do as instructed. During the trek up the mountain the guide shared his knowledge of the mountain, its history and what it meant to the community. On the way to the summit the guide led the way, walking ahead of the tourists and showing them the safe path to follow. He answered all their questions and looked after them as if they were like his family all the way until they reached the top of the mountain where they celebrated together.
When the tourists came back down from the mountain the guide walked away knowing that his job was done. In that moment the tourists realised that the guide wasn’t their servant as they had thought and in reality the guide was their Leader.
Leadership is about putting the needs of others ahead of your own, showing people the way, answering their questions and keeping them safe while you help them achieve their dreams and when all is said and done the people believe that they have done it themselves. Leadership is about the needs of the team and not the needs of the Leader.
Leadership is not about glory it’s about service.
The typical organisational structure has the Leader at the top of the chart with the followers listed below them. The best leaders I have ever worked with have the personal view that the organisation chart should be the other way around with the leader at the bottom with the responsibility of being there to serve their followers. They believe leaders exist in order to provide their followers with the belief, tools and resources in order to go places they hadn’t been to before.
Leadership is never about you.
When things are going well it’s good to be a leader. In times of success the focus is on the leader and their accomplishments yet this can create a false sense of belief within the leader. They have to remember that they don’t exist without followers. Without followers the leader is just an individual with an opinion. It’s the followers faith and belief in the leader and their willingness to follow that provides the leader with the power and authority needed to do their job. Leadership is always about them and never about you.
Humility is a Leader’s most valued quality.
If you possess a range of skills then you will be successful and a valuable employee to your organisation but if you possess humility then you will become a successful leader. As a Leadership Coach I can teach leaders a range of skills but it’s difficult to teach them humility. That comes from a leader’s upbringing, the values instilled in them by their family, their community and their faith. Not many people are Leaders and very few are good leaders because leadership is difficult. Successful leaders at times need to act against their own personal interests, they have to put the needs of others ahead of their own personal needs and that requires a special person, it requires humility.
When he was elected President of South Africa after many years of captivity, Nelson Mandela stood in front of his people and expressed the type of leader he wanted to become.
“I stand here before you not as a prophet but as a humble servant of you, the people. Your tireless and heroic sacrifices have made it possible for me to be here today. I therefore place the remaining years of my life in your hands.” - Nelson Mandela
One of the greatest leaders of our time, Nelson Mandela understood that being a humble servant and being a strong leader are not seperate. He knew that you can’t be a great leader without humility and the desire to serve.
When you go back into the office you need to ask yourself if you want to be the tourist or if you want to be the guide. If your team wants to get to the top of their own personal mountain then you need to be prepared to show everyone the path to follow, and be prepared to share your knowledge, be prepared to care for your team and be prepared to serve. I will leave you with a question that you can ask yourself and that is not what your team is going to do for you but instead what you as a leader is going to do for your team.
Posted: Monday 4 April 2022