If you follow my column, you know I like to write about servant leadership, which I believe is the most powerful leadership philosophy on the planet.
As a servant leader, your role is to lift up your employees and help them joyfully achieve their goals. When they succeed, you succeed, and the whole organization succeeds. It's a thing of beauty.
When you choose to serve first, it's for the other person's benefit. You selflessly focus attention away from yourself and put the spotlight on others. Leaders operating from this orientation get the best out of their employees, which leads to great business results.
Putting servant leadership into action
To add some practical elements of servant leadership into your work routine, here are seven ways to do it:
1. Practice removing obstacles that make it hard for employees to do their best work.
2. Provide the information, technology, resources, and support for people to do great work.
3. Ask your direct reports, "How can I help you?" or "What can I do -- and not do -- to help you be successful?"
4. Catch people doing things right -- and show people you "see them."
5. Find opportunities to develop people's skills. Think about what would benefit those you serve by improving their skills.
6. Be more generous with your time. Have one-on-one meetings not to benefit you as their manager, but because they would benefit your employees first.
7. Have a clear vision of the future, but be sure to get your people aligned and moving in the same direction. You do that by communicating an exciting vision that gets people up in the morning to want to make it happen, together, as a team.
As you look over this list it may feel too hard to achieve. In these moments when being a servant leader feels like it takes too much time or effort, remember the law of reciprocity: What you put out is what comes back to you from others, often multiplied. If you want others to care about you and the organization you lead, you must first care about the people doing the work.