When it comes to running a business, we often feel like the only way to manage the day-to-day operations is from the top down, developing processes that allow everything from sales calls to hiring processes to be conducted efficiently. What if there’s a better way?
Sometimes, there are decisions to make that can help you, but at someone else’s expense. In that moment, you can give in to human impulse and put yourself first or do what benefits others and win the moment for everyone. Winning a moment doesn’t mean you lose out on the benefits for yourself, it just means the moment benefits you later on, allowing you to turn it into long-term success.
With servant leadership, business owners can distribute responsibility to those who have earned it, cut down on employee turnover, and win more moments. I’ve taken this road in my own life and in my business, and it’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.
What is Servant Leadership?
As people, we are often led to do what’s best for us, often in spite of the well-being of other people. Sometimes, we see it as the cost of doing business, or a justifiable response based on the other person’s actions. Servant leadership takes this decision and flips it on its head. Now, instead of doing what’s best for you, you work to do what’s best for everyone regardless of how it might affect you in the short term.
By working to build genuine relationships, you’re not only serving and supporting others, you’re doing what’s best for those in your orbit to win the moment.
Becoming a Servant Leader
To truly become a servant leader, you’ll need to put a few universal truths into practice, ensuring success in both your business and personal life. Remember, success starts from within; it’s not just something you can do at work, then hang up when you get home. Learning to put human tendency aside and work logically has to be practiced all the time.
- Be positive. Dwelling on negative emotions doesn’t just kill productivity, it can become a bottomless pit that’s impossible to escape. To better help those who serve you, you need to be positive, even in adversity. This doesn’t mean faking happiness. It’s okay to be upset, but understand that the conditions that upset you are often temporary. Learn to process them and move on, so that negativity doesn’t get between you and your team’s success.
- Project confidence. People want someone they can trust. Projecting the confidence that you have in your team and their work can make other people see what you see while improving the trust your customers have in your business and your team has in you.
- Listen to others. When you talk with people, do you really listen to what they have to say? Are you consciously considering your team’s concerns? Do you make a point to pay attention and remember what you hear? Active listening is all of these things. Make time and effort to listen to others: your clients, your team members, your family, and even yourself.
- Care about individual worth. Employees are more than just interchangeable gears. And customers are more than dollar signs. Remember that all the people you interact with have lives. Make a point to be a part of their lives, get to know your team, your customers, and everyone else. The way to make a lasting impact as a business owner is in personalizing what you do.
- Give to others of yourself. This can be difficult. You’ve worked hard to build your business, to succeed in your industry. Surely you deserve your cut of the profits. But sometimes it’s not so simple. Sometimes what’s best for the business isn’t necessarily what’s best for you. Work to protect the whole over any one individual, including you.
- To consider what others need... Ask. One of the funny things about people who need the most help is that, so often, they won’t ask for it. In order to really become a servant leader, social awareness must become one of your best qualities. You can start by asking others what they need. Be sure to listen, because their answer may be totally different from what you expect.
- Constantly create value. Why do customers seek out a certain business over others nearby? Why would they choose yours? Servant leaders understand that the way to develop a loyal customer base isn’t flashy ads or booking high dollar appointments, it’s creating real value, day in and day out, for your clients. Phenomenal customer service is the best way to keep customers and a hallmark of servant leadership.
- Embrace Gratitude. “If I get this new car or this new phone, I’ll finally be happy.” You hear it all the time. But it’s not material things that make us happy, it’s the relationships we build with people — the ways we’re able to support and help others — that give us value and meaning. Follow those goals, work to lead through service. You’ll make more money and do what’s most important: leave the world a better place than you found it.
Think About How You Can Use These in Your Life
These principles might seem like obvious steps to improve yourself and your business, but using them to win moments requires constant practice.
I first developed these principles when I was training customer service representatives for a past client. At first, their business grew, then mine grew as word spread about their success and more clients wanted to learn how to use the principles. But our own growth hit a wall, and we couldn’t figure out why until we realized that we needed to do a better job of applying these principles in our own work. Once we started taking our own advice, our business tripled in size.
Eventually, I started using them in my own life too, not just at work. In every interaction with someone, I try to identify where my pride or ego can get in the way of being a true servant. That helps me win moments in all aspects of my life, from the way I run my business to how I serve my family. It can seem like a struggle at first, but taking on the challenge of servant leadership will help you win more moments, and you’ll happier, too.
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