The Joy of Servant Leadership

... where the needs of your team rank before your own.


· In the business world, smart leaders know that success comes only when their team wins, and when each team wins, the whole company wins.

· Business successes are counted by the positive relationships you develop.

· If you become obsessed with personally “winning” a debate, then someone would have to lose. Servant leadership is when you succeed only after your team member wins; this is a leader who serves.

· Change “how can I overcome their negativity or objections” to “how can I help them achieve their goals?”

· The greatest leaders think of themselves as a valuable resource for helping others get what they want and need.

· Always be willing to ask questions and receive input. Listen first. Then listen some more.

· Most employees perceive themselves to be very busy, and would rather choose to do than to talk; they would rather avoid conflict than sit down to work through internal problems. But doing nothing is inertia. Doing nothing allows problems to fester. A leader who serves encourages a safe place to explore solutions.

· Servant leadership does not mean leading with solutions means guiding others toward solutions.

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Here are some simple ways to help a team member co-create a solution for an internal problem:

o Ask questions about the situation and his/her perceptions, and offer personal reflections back – establish mutual understanding and respect.

o Earn trust by expressing genuine interest in and care for their world; try to understand the challenges they face. Reflect back with compassion and sincerity. Remember, 90% of your communication is through your body language.

o Ask for permission to tell a story, and then recount example(s) of another similar situation that has been resolved in a creative way.

o Ensure that the employee understands the company’s stance on integrity, cultural alignment, and corporate goals.

o Educate based on your knowledge of resources – employees usually know that they could perform better with support, but don’t quite know how or what to ask for. They often have a limited grasp of their options.

o Become a sounding board first, and a source for expertise second; help the employee understand that they can feel empowered to bring a solution forward, and that you can help by providing resources or direction to support their solution.

o Analyze the options together to demonstrate a team approach; offer feedback that guides them through pros and cons, so that they own the results.

o Clearly restate the solution back, identify the intended results, and reiterate your support; include timelines and action items; promise to support the process and/or to follow up on any items in your court.


o Follow up, review, reward, and/or celebrate...always acknowledge results.


Serve with joy, and in the process, you will naturally

be serving your own purposes.

Robyn Hounjet