You have to help others to grow, and if they grow, you grow.

In a nutshell, that is the concept behind servant-leadership. Being a servant-leader isn't about you. It's about your team.

It's the mentality that helps you put the team first because their best interests are your best interests.

But, there are 3 main areas where you can invest your time and energy to start seeing a change in how you think and act: your mission statement, your people and your culture.

It's not a magic formula, but it is a magic triangle as each area feeds into the next to lead you towards the full realization of servant-leadership.

1. Mission Statement

A mission statement should be more than a string of words that sound classy and professional.

It presents an opportunity to state in concrete terms what your company stands for, which provides direction for everyone, especially for making big, tough decisions. When you aren't sure where to go next, the mission statement should be there like the north star to guide you along the best path.

Keeping the mission statement at the forefront of everyone's mind stresses that the decisions aren't about what any individual person wants. They're about what the company as a whole needs.

What are you trying to do? Why does this company exist? What is the end goal for this venture?

If the mission statement encapsulates those answers to those questions and if everyone in the company knows it by heart, it gives each individual a guiding light to stay true to the company's core.

2. People

The people you hire are the number one asset of your company, which makes choosing new hires one of the most important decisions you will make.

It's also one of the most difficult because it can be difficult to gauge the most important traits in a new team member.

A resume is great for evaluating experience and even aptitude, but it does not tell you how the person thinks or behaves. An interview can only do so much to help you figure out if the person in front of you will take the mission statement to heart.

To make this corner of the magic triangle work, you need people who share your core values. For instance, here are two core values that are difficult to judge but fantastic to have in a new hire:

One team: People with this mentality value the group effort. They are willing to go the extra mile to help the team succeed, and they believe wholeheartedly in the mission statement. One team is how they behave every day.

Keys to the Ferrari: People with this mentality know that it's important to try new things even if you fail. How people think about things matters.

Without people who believe in it, the best mission statement in the world is useless. On the other hand, the best and most talented people are only effective if they know where they are going with the rest of the team.

3. Culture

An organization is driven by the way the people in it interact and the types of relationships they form. Those relationships between coworkers, supervisors, and different departments, form the company culture.

Without a solid company culture, the mission statement is just words and the people will be less likely to stick around.

A solid culture means a lot more than having a nice break room or a ping pong table. It's not really about the amenities at all. Things like that may demonstrate some appreciation for your team, but it doesn't support their personal or professional growth. It doesn't provide them with opportunities to expand and excel.

How we treat our employees and how they treat each other is the real indicator of a solid company culture. If we treat our employees right, they'll do the same for our customers.

Conclusion

Without the mission statement as your north star, the company will lack a sense of direction. Without people to follow the light of that star, you have no company. Without a solid company culture, there's no glue to hold together the people who make things happen.

These 3 corners of the magic triangle don't provide a fail-proof recipe for being a servant-leader, but they do provide targets to help focus your energy.

Published on: May 31, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.