Before founding my company, I got to witness firsthand the leadership styles of many former executives at previous companies. You name it, I saw it -- bravado and swagger, power and prestige, bullyism and micro-management.
Looking back, none of these leadership characteristics sustained its influence with followers. In fact, most I listed led to droves of resignations.
And then there was another one that led uniquely differently. I speak about him in our short company video. He led without seeking attention through dominance or positional status.
He led by serving the needs of his tribe first before his own. It worked, there's empirical evidence, and employees (I being one of them) responded with full engagement. It was a thing of beauty.
Like that former executive boss, there are a number of qualities that confident, servant leaders share. Here are five that always stand out.
1. They Admit Being Wrong
The conceited leader that proclaims his position and disregards differing points of view is a leader that will have few followers, mostly out of fear and intimidation. Typically, they know they're right, and they need you to know it too.
But truly respected servant leaders are quite secure in admitting when they're wrong and made a mistake, or don't have all the answers.
And they will back down graciously when being proven wrong. To them, it's more important to find out what is right than being right.
Intellectual bullies? Rarely the case.
2. They Listen First, Speak Last
Want to hear an insecure leader at work? Easy, just listen to how they take credit for something other people did, or how defensive they get when confronted with something our of their comfort zone.
Well-respected leaders are unassuming and know what they think; they want to know what you think. This works brilliantly in meetings to tap into the strengths of others.
These servant leaders realize they know a lot, and seek to know even more, and they know the way to do that is to listen more.
3. They Shine the Spotlight on Others
The most remarkable servant leaders don't need the glory; they understand what they've achieved. They don't seek validation because true validation comes from within.
4. They Will Ask for Help
Respected servant leaders are secure enough to admit a weakness and when they need help. By asking for help that others may see as a weakness, this leader knows that when he gets help, he pays that other person a big compliment.
5. They Recognize Others That Fight Alongside Them
A respected servant leader never flies solo, but will always acknowledge his successes as a team effort. Humility serves him well, as he expresses deep gratitude for everyone involved in pulling together a project, no matter how big or small the role.
He understands human nature and will make it a priority to recognize people for their hard work, both in public and private.
A person that sees this leader in action not seeking self-glory, and instead building up others, will typically be more willing to follow that leader. That's a huge competitive advantage!