There was once a time when leaders were defined as hard, individuals who, with a scowl, got everything they needed out of their “followers”. With a firm hand and maybe a threat here and there, the work was completed and the boss was feared.
There’s a discipline of leadership that is vastly different and it’s becoming a leading value system for leaders all around the world. In retail management, this “Servant Leadership” is increasingly taught as the right way to not only run your business, but manage, direct and lead your people.
Servant Leadership emerged in the early 70′s and Robert K. Greenleaf is credited with starting the movement with his essay “The Servant as Leader”. The concept is simple: Give to your employees as much as they give to you and the bond between the two can be strong and unbreakable.
“The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.” “The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived? “
The idea may be a little too touchy-feely and progressive for some, but if you’re having trouble leading at home, the workplace or your community, this approach should be considered. It’s got a real Golden Rule feel to it and servant leaders can go home at the end of the day or turn the lights off at home at night knowing those that are following them are well taken care of.
Think about it like this: If you’re a manager of 10 people, doing any kind of trade or profession, ensuring those 10 employees are provided with everything they need to do their jobs well, including support from their manager is a valuable way to use your time. Further, allow those that work for you to feel taken care of in other aspects of their life and they just might be better able to leave the surprise troubles of life at the door of work each day.
I spent a decade in retail leadership and I’ve tried managing people a number of different ways. In the last half of my career in management, I learned that serving others is the primary job for a manager. I stopped looking at the customers of my business as my personal, number one priority and started thinking of my employees as my key “customer”. I served those customers and they in turn served their customers. The thought is that if I took care of everything for them, they’ll take care of everything else.
I managed with a simple mantra: “I will take care of you. We will take care of everything.”
CoyWire.com’s Content Manager, Daniel Cox, shares his thoughts a few times a week. Reach out to him at email@example.com.
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