The surprising benefits of service leadership
Your life is not about you. It’s about everyone else whose life you touch, and the ways in which you touch it — Neale Donald Walsch
As regular readers of this column may be aware, the more I progress through life the more I try to emulate the behaviours of my mentors. While this takes different forms in different situations, if I had to put a label on what I seek to become, it would be that of a service leader.
The term “servant leadership”, as it is more commonly known, was derived by the American author Ken Blanchard. What is most interesting to me is that the definition and application of servant leadership has itself been evolving as more and more business leaders and life coaches find new ways to put its underlying principles into action.
Essentially, the concept of service leadership revolves around a shift in leadership thinking from a mindset that is self-centred and inwardly focused, to one that is supportive and outwardly focused.
Where “old style” top-down business leaders usually focused on what was good for themselves ahead of their colleagues, and cultivated an unhealthy environment of exclusivity, competition and fear, new service leadership values and supports everyone equally.
A service leader looks at those around them and asks: how can I assist you? How can I make it easier for you to get your job done?
Perhaps the most surprising benefit of giving yourself to the world in this manner is realising that when you cease making your life about yourself, you immediately begin to benefit just as much as the people whose lives you touch. Through your efforts to assist others, you discover deeply buried things about your own human nature and grow and evolve as a person yourself.
The good news is that applications for service leadership extend way beyond the corporate world. Let’s face it, much of the world currently lives in a very competitive environment. We compete for each other’s affection, for jobs, for money and sometimes even for the basic necessities of life such as food and water.
Often, we are literally raised to believe that the way to succeed in life is to climb over each other to get what we want. How many times have you heard expressions such as “make the most of your opportunities; do what it takes to get ahead; win at all costs”?
But is that all there is to life?
Is that what the human experience was really meant to be?
More and more people are stepping forward to say that it isn’t and committing to engage and collaborate with each other in new ways. Thanks to the broadcast magic of the internet, in a sense, each of us is now equal in that we each have the power to transmit messages that support and enrich life, or destroy everything we touch in a quest for a moment of notoriety.
What do you want to be?
• Robin Trimingham is an author and thought leader in the field of retirement who specialises in helping corporate groups and individuals understand and prepare for a new life beyond work. Contact her at olderhoodgroup.com, 538-8937 or email@example.com
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