There have been countless books written on the topic of leadership and I’m sure there will be more written in the future. Leadership is an important quality that people focus on because we need people who are brave, who can make decisions, who can lead us towards achieving our objectives.
However, in recent years, extreme interpretations of these qualities have led to a wave of narcissism. Leaders who are overpraised, act entitled and privileged are now coming under fire. People can intuitively sense that though these people may have strong personalities and have some capacity to lead, they aren’t truly great leaders.
I believe great leadership can be summarized by the following statement:
“A person who leads a group of enthusiastic followers towards a vision by ensuring people have abundant support to succeed”
Here’s why I believe this statement defines the true essence of great leadership. When a leader is focused on service to others, the way they act and make decisions changes. Any quality they need to succeed as a leader is automatically attained because they’re focused on something bigger than themselves. In the following example, for the purpose of brevity, I’ll refer to a great leader as a person who has this singular focus — a ‘service oriented mindset’.
Catalyst is a leading nonprofit organization focused on accelerating progress for women through workplace inclusion. One of their main activities involves conducting extensive research across job levels and geographies to find individual and organizational strategies that lead to success. This inevitably led them to exploring leadership which resulted in the development of the EACH framework of inclusive leadership.
EACH stands for Empowerment, Accountability, Courage, and Humility. People focused on service develop the characteristics required to be effective leaders. This example will break down the EACH model and demonstrate how great leaders automatically fulfill the model by having a service oriented mindset.
Enable people to develop and excel.
Demonstrating confidence in people by holding them responsible for performance they can control.
Putting personal interests aside to achieve what needs to be done. Acting on convictions and principles even when it requires personal risk-taking.
Admitting mistakes, learning from criticism and different points of view. Acknowledging and seeking contributions of others to overcome one’s limitations.
Leaders with service oriented mindsets will learn to embody these traits because they know that doing so will make them more effective. When others witness these behaviors, they will also embody the service oriented mindset to ensure they are able to serve their teams effectively. This spread of the service oriented mindset demonstrates an important characteristic of great leaders:
“Great leaders create more leaders.”
The service oriented mindset can be tested against almost any leadership model and will result in the same conclusion. Leaders serving people that contribute to a greater cause, will have a magnetic appeal, be more effective, and lead people to accomplish great things.
How can you become a great leader?
Leadership is title independent. When people see that a leader is focused on serving them, they are more likely follow willingly. Look around yourself and ask yourself the following questions to start cultivating a service oriented mindset:
For the people around me:
· How are they feeling today?
· Is there anything I can do to help them be effective and efficient?
· What difficulties are they facing?
· What do they enjoy doing?
What do you think about the service oriented mindset in leadership? Is it a good quality for leaders to embody? Let me know in the comments section below!