The Entrepreneurial G. A. P.
by Tim Staton,
At first glance the term servant leadership may strike you as contradictory. How can one be a servant and a leader at the same time? The concept has been found in millennia old writings and can be traced through many civilizations. Robert K. Greenleaf, one of the more modern proponents of servant leadership describes ten characteristics of the servant leader; listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of others, and building community. As an entrepreneur, adopting the mindset of the servant leader is essential to creating a business that will survive and thrive. Three truths make this reality as valid today as it was thousands of years ago.
Truth #1 “Leadership is a choice, not a position”
This wording is attributed to Dr. Stephen R. Covey but variations exist throughout history. The definition of a leader with which I am most familiar comes from a course I teach in Human Performance Improvement (HPI). A leader is anyone who takes accountability for their actions and seeks to positively influence others to do the same. You have the opportunity to grow your own leaders at any level in your organization. Demonstrating servant leadership involves constantly assessing the legitimate needs of your people and seeking to meet those needs. As you do this, leaders will emerge and emulate what you are modeling. They are literally choosing to lead.
Truth #2 “Servant Leadership is Contagious”
Quite literally, when our team witnesses acts of service being performed an actual chemical response occurs. The release of oxytocin accompanies a genuine act of service and gives you a nice “feel good” response. We have all felt it. What is fascinating is that same release of oxytocin occurs when we witness these acts. Our body responds by releasing a little oxytocin and we get to share that nice warm feeling of satisfaction. Consistency is key here. The release of oxytocin builds over time to a point where the body seeks activities which stimulates the release of the hormone and we become more likely to initiate actions which cause the release. We become servant leaders by watching servant leaders.
Truth #3 “You Can’t “Fake it until you Make it”
We must be careful here though. If you are insincere or if you are expecting something back for these acts of service the effect is voided and may even trigger other, more undesirable chemicals which produce stress, fear and mistrust. Empathy requires that you constantly consider the feelings of those who depend on your leadership. Know that they look to you for trust and security and that meeting these legitimate needs frees them to provide the same to your customers.
Tim Staton is an author, coach, public speaker and “change” agent. Connect with him and share your experience at https://www.facebook.com/timstatondotcom