Would You Rather Serve or Shine?

We encounter two types of CEOs in our work: Golden Boys (or Girls), and Servant Leaders. 

The Golden ones are typically a little too fabulous for their own good: too fabulous to coach staff, or court talent, or do their own homework. In short, they’re too busy to lead.  While they’re busy promoting their own brand, someone else is actually leading their organization.

We’ve also had the privilege of working with CEOs who are humble: they’re eager to roll up their sleeves, listen, engage, and position others to shine.  These are Servant Leaders.  They see themselves as facilitators of others’ success, and know their organizations won’t succeed without the people around them.

Of course, no one is born a CEO; these approaches to leadership develop over time. That means you have choices about the kind of leader you are, and who you want to become, at whatever level you are in your organization.

Here are three ways to build your Servant Leadership muscle:

•    Connect – Get to know people, both on and outside your team.  Learn what matters to them, and share what’s important to you.  These personal connections spark loyalty and motivation. 

•    Trust – Robert Greenleaf, who coined the term Servant Leader, identifies high-trust cultures as ones that empower people to be fast, innovative and collaborative.  To achieve this nimbleness, you can cut down on control, internal horse-racing and politics; your organization will be poised to succeed. 

•    Co-create – “No man is an island”; the same can be said for vision, strategy and process.  Create these with your team, and your team will give everything they’ve got to achieve success. 

The bottom line? Servant leaders are more authentic and more fun to work with than the Golden ones. 

Which kind of leader do you want to become: Golden or Servant?

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