What does it take to be a leader in your business, your community, your family and your relationships?
Try being a servant.
The concept of “servant leadership” in business, developed by Robert K. Greenleaf and popularized by Steven Covey, proposes that one becomes a successful leader primarily by meeting the needs of others rather than one’s own. This causes others to feel valued and respected, which in turn leads to their respecting and valuing their leader and perhaps their employer. It’s a pretty powerful concept, which you can adapt to all of your relationships.
If you focus on meeting others’ needs and on significance over material success, real leadership naturally follows.
Servant leaders demonstrate through example that they value people over possessions. In personal relationships this means prioritizing your time to focus on people: spending time with your family and friends and staying emotionally connected to them.
Too many of us think that earning a good living makes a family strong, but truth is, relationships aren’t about money. Your loved ones need your presence over your presents. Disconnect from work and spend some quality time together. Be intentional about making time to have fun with your spouse and children.
How about dreaming a little with your partner? Where do you want to go together? This means listening and reflecting, not talking and fixing. Sound hard for you? It may be. I’m not a natural either, but the rewards of emotional closeness with my wife and children have been worth working at it!
In your business and community life, being a servant leader means first listening to the concerns of others. Just listen. Really listen. Once they know you’ve heard them, you can add your own thoughts and ideas into the conversation. As relationships grow, follow through on your commitments and admit when you are wrong. Show integrity, humility and understanding. You’ll be surprised at how many “problems” will get a lot smaller with this approach!
As a psychologist and relationship specialist myself, I’ve learned to appreciate the tremendous value of healthy relationships. Losing both of my parents early in life has helped me to focus on and be grateful for my friends and family. My profession doesn’t define me. I’m not just a psychologist; I’m a husband, a father, a brother and friend. My deep connections with others give me great joy and fulfillment.
I’m also striving for significance. I want my life to mean something – something more than a large 401k balance. Once again, that starts with people. What is more significant than making a positive difference in the lives of others? A life of significance flows naturally from a focus on close relationships, and from helping others to learn and grow, not from power or status.
How about you? Decide today to practice servant leadership, connect with others, and make a positive difference in their lives. Be a people person. Be significant!