Business leaders are the driving force behind entire companies. They inspire teams to work hard each day, setting an example that everyone else follows. A leader sets the tone for the entire workplace, making decisions that create a company culture and motivate others. The leader also serves as the face of the company to the community, as well as to potential clients.

But what truly makes a good leader? As Richard B. Hollis, founder of the online marketplace Holonis, recently pointed out, good leadership is all about attitude. Like many successful leaders, he believes in the importance of being disruptive in the space, while also sending the right message to employees and the community. Successful leadership starts with an attitude of providing service to the goals and dreams of customers and colleagues.

Servant Leadership

What is servant leadership? When a leader has the mindset of a servant, her focus is exactly where it should be. It's on the customers, who she sees as the main reason she works so hard. The goal is to make sure every customer is 100 percent satisfied. The customer is the boss and, while the business leader is ultimately running the show at the company, the team is essentially working for each customer.

When a business leader engages in servant leadership, the goal is to lead with integrity, honesty, and professionalism at all times. Effective leaders surround themselves with the type of people who share their core beliefs, who will follow faithfully because they believe in the company mission, not just because they need a paycheck. Workers who have "buy in" often deliver quality products, as well as customers who become highly devoted. For examples, look no further than the Apple "fan boys" of the world or the cult of Elon Musk. When a strong leader deals with someone (customer or employee) who doesn't share the values of the organization, that relationship doesn't last.

Employees Are People, Too

A servant leader's attitude of servitude extends to the employees, as well. Instead of seeing herself as a dictator and employees as followers, a true servant leader realizes that she exists to serve the employees, as well. Their success is hers at the end of the day. It is a duty as a business leader to ensure the team has the resources it needs to do the best job possible.

In addition to putting both customers and employees first, the servant leader also believes power within an organization is shared among those who are part of it. This means that a leader makes sure each team member has the resources and support necessary to learn and grow. Over the years, this support will lead team members to pursue their own career dreams, possibly even away from their current company (and that's a good thing).

Community Involvement

At its heart, the servant leader concept emphasizes the importance of working for the benefit of the community at large. This type of leader sees the bigger picture and creates products that improve the quality of life for customers. Whether a company provides services to fellow businesses or manufactures products found in stores across the country, a servant leader sees themselves as a servant to the customers. Those customers then can be more productive within their own lives, improving their communities as a result.

A true servant leader is active within her own community, working hard to give back to those who have helped her own business grow. Whether this means volunteering on the board of a local nonprofit or being an active member of an industry trade organization, the leader believes in the importance of giving to others, using resources to help them. Philanthropy is also often an important part of the corporate plan.

Good leadership relies heavily on attitude. When a business owner comes from a place of service, she inspires others and brings positive benefits to customers and the community. While a business leader may be responsible for guiding the direction of her own company, the primary responsibility is to give customers and employees what they need to live and work productively. If that is accomplished, then guiding the company becomes much more manageable.

Published on: May 19, 2015