One of the most profound things I have learned in recent years is that the most effective leadership posture I can assume is to strive to be a relentless servant leader who spends his time building into other leaders. This may seem intuitive, but many of us drive so hard to achieve and make a personal, distinctive mark that we fail to focus on this most important aspect of leadership (especially as we are “coming up” in our chosen field or business.)
Admittedly, I still consider myself a novice who struggles daily with the tensions this new posture creates. For instance, as you serve others, and try to put them ahead of yourself, you may find you have to act more humbly. You may even find your ego bruised. You may find that others get credit for ideas you have shared with them. One of the greatest tensions is seeing others promoted or move on to a position you were interested in or thought you should have been considered for. These are the tensions and the risks that you take if you truly embrace this posture and practice this competency. This is especially challenging as you begin to practice leadership this way. Stick with it, over time, you will begin to see other results as well. You will notice a peace that you can’t quite describe that comes from serving others. You will notice that the level of respect you gain from those you lead, coach and respect increases. You will experience the relief that comes from seeing the world through the lens of people lifting each other up versus competing and tearing each other down. I love what Nelson Mendela said about this:
“It is better to lead from behind and put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership. ” Mendela
I can share, unequivocally, that when you watch a leader you are serving, grow and achieve, and you have had the opportunity to be a small part of that success, the rewards are indescribable. Astonishingly, they are greater than the awards, at-a-boys and accolades you earn for yourself. Beyond mere personal gratification, your profession, calling or business gains the ability to improve exponentially. This is where this practice is not counterintuitive at all. Alone you can only achieve so much, but building up and supporting others, so they can also build into the people around them, creates a symphony of productivity and engagement that you could never acheive as a solo artist.
Consider how you can spend more time building into other leaders. To put this competency into overdrive seek out coaching to get an assessment of where you are on this skill and how you can improve. Whether you choose to work on this on your own or with help, you won’t regret the investment.