Daily Habits

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step – Chinese proverb. 

Our hopes, dreams and aspirations are extremely important to our success.  Whether we are discussing work, student, or home life, we all have a picture in our minds of what success looks like. 

With that picture in mind, you have probably set some goals to achieve your definition of success.  If you just started crafting your goals, please see the post from a couple of weeks ago entitled, 2020 Vision.  You can access it here

Many people set achievable goals and flame out before reaching them.  Why?  What is the difference between those who succeed and those who give up? 

A goal is only as good as the person who is going to see it through to completion.  And this is only accomplished through developing the daily habits, or steps, it takes to cumulatively reach your destination.

No matter how big the goal, you have what it takes to reach it!  Too often, however, people set grandiose goals and never take the daily actions required to meet them.  I am convinced that by taking your goal from the finish line back to the starting line will greatly increase your chances of victoriously completing it!

Let me explain.  For example, a freshman in college has entered the higher education domain with a goal of one day achieving a bachelor’s degree.  When first starting, it seems massive and overwhelming to imagine four years of study, work, and finals in order to graduate. 

So, the freshman learns quickly to focus their energy on passing each semester.  To get through the semester, they must succeed in each of their classes.  Breaking it down even further, the freshman must focus on the assignments and expectations in each of those classes.  Finally, the successful student figures out the daily habits required to complete the assignments for the classes of each semester that ultimately results in obtaining their desired degree.   

We can take the same approach with any goal.  Want to lose 50 pounds this year?  Want to out produce what you did last year at work?  Want to have a closer relationship with your significant other?  Think about the finish line, while focusing on each step that will get you there.  What are the daily actions you must take to help you reach your goal? 

Our sales team is busy laying out their goals for this year and we are taking the same approach.  They determine their annual goals and then we spend time breaking them down into what daily actions must occur to reach them.

For example, one team plans to produce 208 quality sales leads for FY2020.  We are now working to focus not on 208, but simply what it will take for each of the team members to produce just two leads per week.  Two people getting two leads for 52 weeks equals 208 leads for the year!

Taking it one step further, we talk about the daily habits required to produce a minimum of two sales leads per week.  Doing so has caused our team members to analyze their day and help them determine how much time and effort they will require to capture those leads.

This simple, yet effective, way of focusing big picture success into manageable daily habits is the key to obtaining any goal.

Remember, your goals must be positive, purposeful, measurable and attainable.  No matter the goal, work backward and break it down into monthly, weekly, daily and/or even hourly action steps that you can focus on completing.

Those steps will compile over time and will produce your desired goal.  Now get to work, one step at a time!


Corrective action is something we as leaders must face at one time or another.  Whether you are giving or receiving corrective action, it can be uncomfortable or even down right demoralizing.

Think about it – if you have ever been called to the office to meet with your immediate supervisor because your actions deserve a course correction, it can elicit some negative emotions. 

Likewise, if you have ever had to discuss behavioral issues with a subordinate, it too can leave you with a bad taste in your mouth – especially if you are the type of leader that thrives on seeing your people succeed.

However, it does not have to be a negative experience when it is presented in a positive light.  As leaders we do have control over how we handle presenting corrective action.

For example, if we come into the meeting angry or upset and allow our emotions to control our presentation, the recipient’s defense mechanisms usually flare up and our desired outcome (a behavior correction) will be lost.  Therefore, it is a best practice to wait and rationally evaluate the reasons for meeting with the employee instead of doing so immediately. 

During the meeting (which should always be done in private and away from the employee’s peers) focus primarily on the negative behavior and not the person.  Keep the discussion on what specific action or inaction is causing you to meet. 

Throughout the meeting, encourage the employee to come up with solutions to correct their behavior.  This will produce better buy-in from the employee and, thus, a greater likelihood they will change.

If needed, schedule a follow-up appointment if the initial shock of being held accountable is too overwhelming for the employee.  Remember to keep calm and stay in control of your emotions, no matter the reaction of the employee.

I recently had an employee that needed corrective action because he was not completing daily tasks.  After several coaching sessions from his immediate supervisor, he was still not performing at the expected level.  The next step was to hold him accountable through the company’s corrective action process.

During our meeting, I sensed he was upset and emotional.  I told him that we would follow-up in a couple of days to discuss solutions.  A couple of days later we met in an informal setting in his department, away from his peers.  He came up with several great solutions and since then his work behaviors have dramatically improved. 

Had I approached the meeting as a “one-way conversation” and berated him for his poor performance, it would not have produced what was needed:  an employee willingly contributing to the success of the team.

Remember, you are the leader and therefore have control over the tone of the meeting.  Ensure the employee that you believe in them and only want to see them succeed.  Corrective action can produce positive results if it is done with the spirit of helping the employee become better.


It is hard to believe, but 2019 is almost finished!  This past year was filled with its share of challenges, opportunities and hope.  As I reflect on it and our team’s successes, it fills me with a sense of accomplishment and that familiar feeling, that all leaders share, of needing to achieve more.

Yes, believe it or not, 2020 is upon us and will be here in less than a week.  Leaders across the world are thinking about the new year and making plans to lead their teams to greater heights and achievements.

What about you?  Are you planning your team’s success for the new year?

Before deciding what we want our teams to accomplish next year, we should set our own personal goals first.  Setting your personal goals first will get you in the correct mindset for leading your team to set theirs.

Personal Goals

Start by focusing your personal goals on three categories:  Personal Growth, Relationships and Professional.

Personal Growth goals fall into three specific categories: Spiritual, Mental and Physical.

Spiritual goals should focus on your core self, your values and purpose in life.  What do you deeply believe in?  How does what you believe in give you purpose?  Where is your spiritual journey taking you?  These are some questions to start with as you formulate your spiritual goals for 2020.

Mental goals may include certain books you plan to read or classes/seminars you plan to attend.  Set a goal for learning and stretching or reinforcing what you already know.  Commit to read a certain amount of leadership or self-help books.  Look for seminars in your local area or sign up for classes designed to help you become better.

Physical goals may involve starting or changing your exercise routine, a change in your diet, a certain weight target, etc.  Staying fit and active will only enhance the other areas of your life, so make it a priority in the upcoming year.

Relationship goals should focus on your immediate family.  They can also include extended family, dear friends and coworkers.  Relationships are vitally important to our overall wellbeing and health.  Focus on tangible ways to strengthen those relationships, such as taking up a hobby or learning a new skill together.  When setting your relationship goals, ask yourself, “What do I plan to contribute to these relationships to help enrich them in 2020?”

Professional goals are what you are planning for yourself and your team at work.  Think of goals that will stretch you and enhance your specific job, such as learning a new skill or receiving a certification.  As for your team, you should guide and coach them as they set their own goals.

Team Goals

For your team to be successful in reaching goals next year, you must include them in the planning process.  Have a meeting with your team to set goals as a group for the new year.  Doing so will create solid buy-in and make achieving those goals more likely. 

Where I work, we have already started planting the seeds about this meeting within our individual department sales teams.  With a minimum baseline, our team will decide their goals for the upcoming year.  The team will collectively set their department goals while the department supervisors and I are available for coaching and advice.  When we conduct our goals meeting in January, they will have some well thought out, specific goals ready to bring before the entire team.

As you work through your personal and team goals, make sure they are positive, purposeful, measurable and attainable.

Positive goals bring joy and excitement to you, especially when you think about accomplishing them.  Each of your goals need to have an element of positivity.  If they do not, they are not worth trying to reach.

A purposeful goal describes what you are trying to accomplish.  In other words, when you write your goal you should see the purpose behind it.  For example, you may have a physical goal of losing 20 lbs. in the first three months of the year.  The purpose is to become healthier, feel better, and look amazing.

Goals must be measurable in order to stay on track and provide motivation for accomplishment.  As you work toward your goal, have checkpoints along the way to measure how far you have come.  The 20 lbs. you are working to lose can be measured weekly as you weigh-in.  When you see positive movement, you are likely to keep the course in reaching your goal.

Above all, make your goals attainable.  You want to make sure the goals stretch you and your team, but they also must be realistic.  For instance, I have a goal to maintain my physical fitness level in 2020.  This is attainable.  It would be unrealistic for me to set a goal to become so physically fit that I could play professional football, however!  Your goals, and your team’s goals, must be something that can be attained.

Yes, we are less than a week from the new year and it promises to be an amazing one.  I wish all of you nothing but success and prosperity in achieving your personal and team goals in 2020.  Remember, set your goals first and then lead your team well in setting theirs!


Rigid Flexibility

When I was in the military, our leaders would often use the term “rigid flexibility” to describe how we should handle change.  Admittedly, I had no idea what they were talking about every time I heard this oxymoronic phrase.  It wasn’t until I obtained leadership positions that rigid flexibility became clearer and more than just military jargon used to inspire troops dealing with change.

Rigid flexibility means being flexible enough to make changes as circumstances dictate while remaining true to our beliefs.  In other words, there are times we must bend when circumstances require but we should never let those circumstances break our core values.

When our military leaders informed us of a change, they expected us to remain flexible enough to make the necessary adjustments but stay determined to go about it without changes to how we prepared and executed the mission itself.

I discovered that our leaders did not want our core values to ever flex, but to remain immovable, or rigid.  This meant that as circumstances changed, we were to execute those changes within the guidelines of our core values.  In the business world, we should never compromise our core values, beliefs, and ethics.  If a change is needed, we must be flexible enough to implement the change without flexing ethical, moral or legal lines.

Rigid flexibility is a great tool for leaders to model while an organization is going through a period of change.  The leaders I looked up to in the military did a fantastic job of showing their resolve in handling change the right way.  They remained true to their core values and their example helped us change course when the mission dictated, but to do so with our core values, beliefs and ethics intact. 

The next time you are facing change in your workplace, remember your own core values, beliefs and ethics.  Become a change agent with rigid flexibility in mind as you help your teams navigate the change.  Lead by example as you personally show your team members what it means to bend, but not break.  Remember, change may be inevitable, but our attitude toward change is completely within our control.


Attitude of Gratitude

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”                   – William Arthur Ward

In 1863, during the midst of the Civil War, President Lincoln declared that the last Thursday of November should be designated as a day of Thanksgiving.  He knew the importance of remaining thankful, even during arguably the worst crisis in American history.

Ever since, Americans have celebrated this cherished holiday with family and friends across the country.  People gather in houses and restaurants for feasting, fellowship and football for this beloved American holiday.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it highlights the importance of gratitude.  Life is short and we can easily get so wrapped up in our day-to-day activities that we forget to pause and reflect upon all the good things in life. 

Study after study has shown that those who practice gratitude on a continual basis are some of the happiest people around.  This does not mean that thankfulness always brings happiness, but ungratefulness surely won’t either!  Adopting an attitude of gratitude is one of the best ways to get your mind in a positive state and that is always a wonderful habit to maintain.

Leaders should adopt an attitude of gratitude not just at Thanksgiving but throughout the entire year.  When we continuously express thankfulness to our followers, they get a real sense of appreciation and most respond by striving to do more for you.  Leaders should thank their people often and with sincerity.

True thankfulness must come from the heart and not out of insincere obligation.  In other words, don’t treat thanking your employees like something else to cross off your daily schedule.  Whenever an employee does something that positively impacts the team and/or the bottom line, let them know that you noticed it and are thankful for their efforts.

Don’t just limit your attitude of gratitude to the office.  When your spouse or children do something that positively impacts your family, let them know how much you appreciate them.  By practicing thankfulness at home with your loved ones, you will reinforce the habit and it will bring positive benefits in all aspects of your life.

As you gather with family and/or friends for Thanksgiving this year, tell each of them how much you appreciate them and what they mean to you.  As John C. Maxwell points out, “Remember, man does not live on bread alone: sometimes he needs a little buttering up”.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!



7 steps to a better C.U.L.T.U.R.E.

Culture is a leader’s best friend!  A workplace with a great culture provides fuel to get the momentum machine moving!  Companies that have great cultures make coming to work a joy instead of a dread.  Excited, positive employees have less absences, cause less drama and produce more.

If the collective attitude of your workplace needs an upgrade, start by following these simple suggestions to better your C.U.L.T.U.R.E.

Create an inclusive atmosphere – Start by celebrating diversity and create a feeling of openness to share ideas and suggestions for improvement.  It’s one thing to hire for diversity, but the best leaders understand the treasure of ideas and creativity that comes from having people with different backgrounds on their teams.  Encourage all ideas to be brought to the table and you’ll be amazed at what you get!

Understand the pulse – Learn to observe the attitudes and rhythms of your teams.  This will help you better assess engagement and needs for intervention.  Watch the mannerisms of your people as they interact with each other and customers.  Do your employees move with a sense of purpose and pep in their steps?  Is there a natural willingness to serve others?  Leaders in tune with their team’s pulse can identify when culture needs to be tweaked.

Love your employees – Think about the sacrifices as well as the contributions they make for the team.  Most of your employees do not wake up with the desire to come to work and goof off all day.  They want to succeed and rely on you to help them do that.  As a leader, you should desire for them to be as successful as possible and this desire comes from a love for them.  The best leaders love their employees because they genuinely care about them.

Treat everyone with respect – Respect everyone as not only a team member, but more importantly, as a human who is there to make the team a success.  Respect must be earned and, as a leader, it is up to you to lead by example.  The most effective way to increase respect is to model what it means to give it.  Think about your tone when you address your employees and be mindful of showing them respect.  Remember that respect must be given for it to be reciprocated.   

Unify the team – Help team members understand how their contributions serve their teammates as well as the company.  Unification comes through service to the team, from the team.  When teammates help each other, productivity goes through the roof and excitement builds.  Watch any documentary about a championship sports team and you will discover how unified they are through their service to each other.  Talent and coaching are important, but not as much as unification. 

Rely on each other – Trust is a must with regard to culture.  Learning to rely on each other is the catalyst for solidifying a team into a family.  When the team is so unified it becomes like family, it becomes easier to trust each other.  Leaders should always stress the importance of relying on each other and look for creating opportunities to do that.  Team projects and exercises are a great way to help increase reliability.    

 Expect excellence – Expect excellence of yourself as well as your team.  Raising your level of expectation based upon your belief in your employees will cause them to elevate their game.  One of the U.S. Air Force’s core values is, “Excellence in all we do”.  Along with integrity and service, excellence was permeated into everything we did in the military.  When excellence becomes a pillar of your team’s culture, great things will happen.

Following these suggestions to a better C.U.L.T.U.R.E. has proven itself to be a game changer in my experience.  I have been on teams that have gone from dysfunctional to wonderful in little time because leaders focused on bettering the culture.  Those teams, in turn, produced more, increased engagement scores and significantly reduced turnover.

What are your suggestions to help create a better workplace culture?  Please comment and let us know what has worked for you.

Hope this helps, everyone…lead well!


The Sweet Spot

What is your leadership style?  I have been asked this question too many times to count.  If you are in a management position, I’ll bet you have been asked the same thing.  It is a great question, because it causes us to do some self-reflection and analyze how we tend to lead.

As you ponder this question, think about leaders you have worked for.  What did you admire about their leadership styles?  What did you dislike about their leadership approach?  What worked and what didn’t work?  How did you and your coworkers respond to how they led? 

I have found that the vast majority of poor, ineffective leaders land on one of two ends of the management spectrum: micro- and macro-management.  The best managers recognize the spectrum and land their leadership style somewhere in between the two.

Webster’s dictionary defines micromanage as, “to manage especially with excessive control or attention to details”.  As I think about all the micromanagers I’ve worked for, the words excessive control fits them like a glove!  They were overbearing and tended to hover critically over those who worked for them.  They left their followers feeling inept and negative towards their work.  Micromanagement dissolved any desire to follow such leaders and the team’s will to succeed suffered.

At the other end of the management spectrum is the macro-manager.  These leaders are so hands-off that you wonder if they actually do anything other than collect a larger paycheck than yours!  Macro-managers lead from so far out that they cannot see obvious opportunities or pitfalls ahead.  They view the workplace like someone zooming as far out on Google Maps as possible.  They can see the country where their neighborhood is located, but not the roads and businesses unless they zoom back in.  Macro-managers view the workplace the same way.  They are rarely seen and often provide little direction to their employees.  Like micromanagers, macro-managers also dissolve the desire to follow them.

Leadership is the art of influencing people.  This is best performed by finding that sweet spot between micro- and macro-management.  If you think of the best leaders you’ve followed, didn’t they land somewhere in-between micro- and macro-management in the way they led?  The top leaders I have worked for were close enough to provide support and coaching but did so without hovering and nitpicking every detail.  They led by getting out in front, but not so far ahead that I never saw or heard from them.  The most influential leaders lead their teams by finding the sweet spot between micro- and macro-management.

As you lead your teams, keep consciously aware of your leadership style.  Ask yourself whether you are providing too much direction or not enough.  Knowing your followers is essential to leadership because it will help you better pinpoint where you need to land on the spectrum.  You will discover that your people will respond to varying degrees of your style. 

For example, the newest employee on your team may require more micromanagement from you at the very beginning.  Be keenly aware of how quickly they grasp concepts and perform the skills needed to get their work completed.  It’s a lot like teaching a child to ride a bike.  As I taught my children to ride, I held onto the seat and handlebars as they sat on the bike.  Running beside them as I held on and they found their balance gave them the security they needed while learning how to keep their balance.  As their confidence grew, I would let go while still running beside them.  Eventually, they no longer needed my constant micromanagement as they hopped on their bikes and took off.  Look at your employees in the same way by providing up close direction and coaching at the beginning, but also recognize when to let them go it alone.

For more seasoned employees, you must learn to trust in their ability to perform tasks and get the results needed for the team to excel.  Experienced employees will appreciate you not hovering and constantly criticizing their performance, but they also expect you to notice their efforts.  The only way you can do this is if you stay involved enough to see how effective they are.  As my children grew in their abilities to ride, I continued to provide encouragement and only coached them when it was necessary for their safety.  Macro-managers never encourage their employees because they are too focused on the big picture to notice the efforts of their team members. 

Influencing people truly is an art because everyone on your team needs different levels of encouragement from you.  As a leader, it is up to you to know your followers well enough to provide the exact leadership style to properly influence them.  As you go through your day, analyze how you are leading and keep aiming for that sweet spot between the micro- and macro-management spectrum based on what your team needs.  Your team will appreciate it and your leadership will become more effective.

Lead Well to Succeed Well

The best leaders in the world all have one thing in common:  They seek to become better leaders.  Those of us in leadership roles must continuously improve our skills or we will become ineffective influencers of our teams.

John Maxwell points out that, “Everything rises and falls on leadership”.  This statement is so profoundly true.  If you think about all the major successes and failures from history, they can be traced back to one thing: Leadership – good or bad.  As such, it is vital that leaders seek to improve their leadership habits so they can lead their teams well.

Leading well is the proof of your ability to positively influence followers.  

What actions can you take to ensure you are leading well?  Start by improving in these three areas and you will see an increase in your overall leadership effectiveness:

1. Listen Well – It all starts with actively listening to our followers.  Active listening means that we are listening with the intent of understanding. 

Put away your smart phone, turn off the computer monitor in the office, silence the desk phone and give your follower your undivided attention.  By reducing the distractions, you are telling the follower that they are important, and you are genuinely ready to listen to understand what they are communicating.    

When we actively listen to those we lead, we convey their importance to us and the team.  Your followers need to feel that they belong and are valued by you. 

Active listening is the gateway to empathy.

Check out https://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/ActiveListening.htm for some great techniques to increase your active listening skills.

2. Coach Well – Great coaches believe in their people by placing them in positions to use their natural talents and abilities to help the team win.  Coaching well involves spending time with team members by providing instruction and feedback with encouragement.

As a coach, it is imperative for you to provide instruction.  The difference between a trainer and a leader is how they deliver the instruction.

Trainers will show someone how to do a task and maybe observe them performing it.  Leaders show the task, observe the performance and provide encouraging feedback to reinforce motivation. 

Feedback should always be presented with the spirit of growth, from both you (giving the feedback) and your follower (receiving the feedback).  This is best accomplished if your feedback is more positive than negative.

There are times for negative feedback, but if that is all you are prone to give, then your followers will become disillusioned and stop receiving it.

By providing mostly positive feedback, your followers will better listen to and accept the negative when it is necessary.

For some great coaching tips, visit https://www.bizlibrary.com/article/7-coaching-tips-managers-leaders/

3. Serve Well – Every great leader is a servant to their followers.  Intentionally serving our team simply means we actively pursue ways to serve them.  Serving our team goes beyond providing tools, teaching and places of employment. 

Serving your followers does not have to include elaborate things like catering lunch or giving rewards for accomplishing goals.  Serving well means you look for small daily ways to show your appreciation for them. 

Roll your sleeves up and help your followers complete a task.  As you do, talk about the things that matter most to them like their family, hobbies or career aspirations.  Make the conversation about them as you help them complete a task and you will be amazed at how well they respond to your leadership.

Serving well means providing genuine encouragement, support through rough periods, and celebrating successes.  When followers know their leader cares deeply for them through acts of service, they are motivated to perform their best for their leader.

Check out a great post from Ken Blanchard for more insight into Serving Well at https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/4875282/posts/2142

Those looking to increase their leadership influence should focus on Listening Well, Coaching Well and Serving Well.  Increasing these skills will ultimately help you to Lead Well.

My hope is that this will help you on your leadership journey.

Lead Well,


Next Level Engagement

Hello, Leaders!  From whatever level you lead in your organization, you undoubtedly know the importance of a team that is fully engaged.  If you have worked on a team that wasn’t engaged, you understand and appreciate the value of working with people who come together for the common goal of making each other successful in accomplishing company objectives.

I have had the honor of working on teams, both in the military and in business, led by people who understood the importance of highly engaged followers.  Those teams highlighted the value of engagement and made me appreciate the positive power it has.

After all, the more a team is engaged the better they contribute to the company’s overall success.  Productivity, profitability and retention rates soar as a result of engagement.  As leaders, it is up to us to help create this type of atmosphere.  It also makes our jobs easier and more enjoyable!

We often hear about companies that provide fun atmospheres like free cereal all day, or slides to take rather than stairs.  Bean bags, beach balls and ping-pong tables make for an exciting workplace, for sure.  Even companies that provide free on-site daycare or health club memberships offer obvious beneficial engagement perks.

Free food and fun activities are excellent surface level engagement tools, but there are better ways to get your teams locked in and engaged that will outlast fun fads.

It does not cost you very much, if anything, to go beyond surface level engagement ideas and create long lasting employee loyalty through the following leadership habits:

Go Beyond the Surface…

  1. Go beyond simply asking employees for their opinions about a direction you are planning to take them.  Get them involved in those decisions.  Whenever possible, have your team come up with solutions and then implement their ideas if it will help improve your situation.  Nothing creates buy-in better than team involvement!
  • Go beyond simple high-fives.  Showcase successes by highlighting achievements to the whole team.  If your workplace is divided into departments, make sure all the departments hear and see the celebrations.  Make commendations important and the employees will give you ample reasons to celebrate!
  • Go beyond just saying thanks.  Instead, look for creative ways to show true appreciation.  Give your team handwritten thank you cards pinpointing what they do to make a positive contribution.  Send them an encouraging email or take them to lunch out of the blue.  Genuinely invest in team appreciation and you will see huge engagement returns!

Going beyond the surface by implementing these simple habits will develop stronger loyalty in your employees.  It will not happen overnight, but if you consistently include your employees in decisions, make a big deal of successes, and show true appreciation, your teams will become more engaged over time.  The key is to keep at it and make it the norm for the way you lead.

Continue to have fun, but don’t neglect the more meaningful leadership habits that solidify loyalty!

Thanks, and go lead well!


Be a Servant Leader

It was not that long ago that “management” was the big buzz word in business.  Books and seminars about becoming better managers were everywhere.  While management is important, why did all the buzz around it not produce the desired results that caused companies to catapult into stratospheric success?  Because you cannot manage people…you MUST lead them if your company will ever grow!  The best leaders in every industry have come to the realization that if you take care of your people, your people will in turn take care of your business.  If you neglect your people and don’t make them priority, they will neglect your business.  It really is that simple!

Gone are the days of the overbearing, micro-managing, fist pounding manager who sat behind a huge mahogany desk looking as if his head was going to explode.  You may have had the opportunity to work for someone like this.  Hopefully, it inspired you to never want to lead people through fear and intimidation.  Those types of leaders inspire the absolute minimum in everyone around them.  After all, why would anyone want to stick their neck out and implement new ideas for fear of being shot down and belittled? 

It is extremely difficult for true leaders who find themselves working for such managers.  If you do, you must determine that you will not lead your team in the same fashion.  You have the power to break that line of fear and authoritarian style management at your position.  How?  By leading your team through exceptional service.

Ever since Robert K. Greenleaf coined the term, “Servant Leadership”, there have been countless books, articles, lectures and seminars on what it means to be a servant leader.  While the term itself seems like an oxymoron (serving and leading at the same time), a deeper look reveals that it is hands down the best approach to leading people.  Servant leadership turns the hierarchical pyramid upside down and means the leader, or the one at the top, is now at the bottom and their focus becomes serving all those who “work for them”. 

Does this sound insane or like anarchy at work?  Don’t take servant leadership to mean “weak leadership”.  To the contrary, it means the boss goes out of his or her way to provide the tools, resources, training and motivation to equip their people to be as successful as possible.  Sometimes it requires the leader to sacrifice self-interests in order to help a team member.  It also may mean having tough love conversations or removing someone that is hindering the team.  In fact, servant leadership requires the leader to constantly look for ways to strengthen the individual and, thus, the entire team. 

As leaders, it should be our privilege to serve those we lead.  If we effectively model service behaviors to our teams, they will respond in kind with how they serve customers.  For example, if an employee approaches you with an issue and you take care of it on the spot for them, you just created a positive example of service to that employee.  No matter how busy you are at that moment, the fact that you paused to help them will solidify their importance to you.  This is leadership gold!  Repeatedly looking for ways to serve your team members shows them what service looks like and they will follow your example. 

For those of you in a leadership position, whether entry-level or CEO, get into the habit of going out of your way to serve your employees.  It doesn’t have to be big or elaborate like an employee appreciation event (although big employee celebrations are important, too).  Every day is chocked full of small opportunities to serve your team.  For example, take out the office trash for everyone or offer a hard worker an extra 30 minutes at lunch while you handle their tasks.  Continually look for ways to serve and they will present themselves to you more often than you may think.  Those small opportunities compile and create huge dividends for you and your team!

We must turn our thinking around and move away from our titles and towards gaining real trust from those who follow us.  We can’t do that by trying to manage people.  We must influence them to buy into the vision and produce better results.  The best way to do this is to lead from a servant’s heart and realize we cannot progress in our leadership journey without willing followers.

Please let us know in the comment section about any leaders you have worked with, or for, who exemplify servant leadership.

If this helped, please click the like button.

Thanks, everyone…go lead well!


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Helping you build your leadership, one brick at a time!


The best longform stories on the web

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