What is a servant leader? This is a leader-manager who understands that he is the one who serves his team and not the other way around. It is great to see and hear that more and more old fashioned toxic working environments with their command-and-control antics are being thrown to the curb.
Servant leadership has a solid foundation in self-awareness of the leader. But how can you pursue it? The best tool in your servant leadership tool box is reflection and meditation. Know thyself is a phrase that you should make your mantra. Please find below a variety of questions you should ask ourselves frequently:
- What can I do to have my feedback meetings on time? Timely feedback reviews and making them a priority is key to team members feel that they are taken just as serious as an “important” customer, or project.
- How can I show that I really am listening to my conversation partner? Being present in any one-on-one or team meeting is one of the main commitments we must make to our team members. Body language and mimics and the phone not being on DND can be a major obstacle in creating great rapport.
- How should I prepare a meeting such that my team members can constructively partake in it? Is my meeting about a conversation for understanding, interpretation, exploration of opportunities, or for action? How does the meeting facilitator make sure the meeting is about the “is” condition and not about the “should-be’s”? How can I make sure we start and stop our meetings on time?
- How do I as the leader get the respect of my team members? How do I get to know what they do every day and would I be able to do what they do?
- What is my best method approach to getting buy-in and collaboration from my team members towards minor and major changes in the organization or the team?
- How do I make sure a yearly feedback meetings, one-on-one meeting and department meetings are held periodically?
- How do I best provide feedback on how and when to deliver performance feedback to the people I serve as quarterback?
- How and what do I do to show that I appreciate each individual’s personal contribution to the team’s effort?
- When an employee says something, what is he/she really saying? What and how (also how much) something is said is often indicative of personal, process, product, or team issues.
- How can we best facilitate change – any change? How do we guide our employees through resistance, sorrow, exploration of opportunities, and finally the commitment to change? The direct path from A to B for change is a leadership illusion.
Here is my call to action: Ponder the questions and find your answers for them that you can implement expediently. Can you see the underlining issues dealing with communication, prioritization, meeting preparation, job shadowing, servant leadership, and perhaps a few more challenges that any leader-manager struggles with? No one is an exception to the rule, and I know that I am frequently challenged and reminded of my own short comings. Key to becoming a great leader-manager is a greater self-awareness. The only way you have to get there is to stop and self-reflect. We owe this to the people whom we serve.