Ken Blanchard believes there is one fundamental question all leaders need to ask themselves: Is the purpose of my leadership to serve—or is it my expectation to be served? A leader’s answer is important because it leads to two fundamentally different approaches to leadership.
As a professional coach, I work with leaders on various skills such as increasing leadership effectiveness, motivating team members, and accomplishing team goals. The coaching discussions often center on how leaders can get team members to do what they need them to do.
Consider these serving leader approaches to five common leadership situations. Would direct reports identify you as a servant leader? (Keep in mind that people can only see your behaviors—not your intentions.)
Providing direction. Servant leaders take responsibility for providing people with clear direction on goals, expectations, and tasks. They recognize next steps that may be clear to them may not be as clear to others. They take the time to explain or reset vision, mission, and goals as needed.
Offering ongoing support. Servant leaders recognize that implementation is achieved through partnering and collaborating with others. A serving leader makes time to provide the day-to-day coaching people need to succeed.
Giving credit where credit is due. Servant leaders recognize that effective leadership is not about them—it’s about giving others what they need to succeed. As Ken Blanchard and Norman Vincent Peale stated in their book The Power of Ethical Management, “People with humility don’t think less of themselves; they just think about themselves less.” Be quick to give others credit and praise when it is deserved.
Valuing both results and relationships. Servant leaders keep results and relationships in balance. Through strong relationships, clear goals, and high performance standards, they lead at a higher level.
Making growth opportunities available for direct reports. Servant leaders use their position power to provide growth and advancement opportunities for others. They develop team members by bringing out the best in them. They also provide feedback on a regular basis, which leads to continuous improvement for increased effectiveness.
Servant leadership is about serving others. Behaviors that align with a servant leader approach create enthusiastic followers, ethical conduct, high quality customer service, individual growth and development, and company success.
I challenge you to ask your direct reports for feedback on your leadership approach. When leaders serve others, everyone succeeds!
About the Author
Terry Watkins is a coaching solutions partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies Coaching Services team. Since 2000, Blanchard’s 130 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services. And check out Coaching Tuesday every week at Blanchard LeaderChat for ideas, research, and inspirations from the world of executive coaching.