I’ve heard those words for years, but never really understood them until I found myself outside looking in. My title at TKO Graphix is “Director of Communications” – we’re still figuring out what that means; however, along with communication responsibilities, including blogs, video, and social media, I also wear other hats, like many in small to mid-sized businesses. I’m privileged to work with several levels of employees on leadership training. I’ve recruited, interviewed, and been part of the hiring process for quite a few employees. The thing is – I have zero direct reports. For the first time in 30 years, I “manage” no one… but I do lead. Outside looking in, not being a manager, I believe I’ve become a better leader. Although I don’t manage anyone directly, I have a vested interest in many of my teammates, and from this perspective, it’s easier to see the most effective leaders are leaders who serve.
Set Your Ego Aside – Let’s face it — part of why you became a manager is probably ego, but ego will often get in the way of effective leadership. Others are best served when ego is set aside.
People Are More Important Than Projects – When anyone manages a project, it’s almost natural to focus more on the plan than how team members fit the plan. However, success may depend more on how team members execute the plan, than the plan itself. Don’t make people fit a plan; make a plan that fits them.
Help Someone Everyday – As a manager of direct reports, it’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day battle and forget the big picture — the more you help members of your team, the more cohesive and loyal the team will be.
Seek Advice from Others – When you’re putting out fires, it’s easy to forget to seek input. By involving others in the plan, you may improve the plan and support of the plan. Make team plans, not your plans.
Share Everything You Know – There should be little that is on a need-to-know basis; if it’s useful, share it. Help others avoid mistakes, pitfalls, and problems. Teach others what has worked for you.
Service is not intangible; it’s giving, caring, and sharing. The best leaders are leaders because people matter to them. As a leader, there’s no greater reward than watching others grow, in part, due to the leader’s direction and influence. A true leader is not served – a true leader serves. Who have you served today?
Here are a few more thoughts on leadership.