Character-based leadership is leading from who you are, your character, rather than from your position or your performance. I’ve been saying that since 2009. Many other leadership speakers, coaches and consultants use words like authentic or genuine leadership and many others talk about servant leadership.
But one thing all of them have in common is that they’re not talking about positional leadership or authority. Each of those flavors of leadership is about how individuals act either to be influential or once they become influential. We agree you don’t wait to get “in charge” to become a leader. In the best scenarios, you get to be “in charge” because you’re a leader. A leader is who you are.
And therefore, if you can be a leader without being in charge, how can we tell who the leaders are?
To me a leader is someone who takes responsibility, overcomes adversity, and serves the team. Notice leaders are not necessarily “in charge” or “the people with the most followers.” They own, overcome, and serve.
Who is a Servant Leader?
The term “servant leadership” has two different extreme misperceptions that cause some polar responses.
Some see it negatively, as a mushy, emotional, service of people. They perceive an over-done, “give everyone everything” kind of leadership. Often, people who tend to think negatively about others feel there is no chance of success for this type of leader.
The other misperception happens when people are seen in a very positive light. They see servant leadership as the only way to empower and enable people to succeed. To them, most people are good, and a great leader is one who serves them so they can be successful.
Servant Leaders Serve The Team
I confess to being somewhere in the middle.
The best servant leaders serve the team’s goal or objective.
There are many ways to do something. Good servant leaders achieve the team’s goal for and with the team members:
—These leaders work to keep team members engaged.
—They work to inspire team members to do their best work for the team’s common goal to ensure overall success.
—They also enforce rules, negotiate trade-offs, correct, and may even need to ask someone to leave if that member can’t honor commitments and produce more than they consume.
—A true servant leader is someone who aligns team goals with individual team member aspirations to create team success. The best interests of the team members and the team as a whole overlap as much as possible to ensure team success.
Servant leaders serve the team. They know the individual members succeed when the team succeeds. When team members believe they can be successful without the team achieving the same success, you have a recipe for disaster.
What About You?
Have you ever been on a team where it was “every person for themselves?”
How would you describe that experience?
What is your experience with effective servant leadership of teams?
How do you ensure that your leadership is effectively serving others?
Mike Henry Sr. is a VP of IT who also speaks and writes on leadership, character and faith at http://mikehenrysr.com. He’s one of the co-authors of The Character-Based Leader: Instigating a Leadership Revolution… One Person at a Time. He also invites you to take part in his current project: a survey about your perceptions of the Christian Faith in the workplace. Check it out at this link.
Mike Henry Sr. | A Twist on Servant Leadership