Servant | Leader: A 2017 Guide

Do you find yourself wanting to be the boss? Maybe you catch yourself watching an episode of ‘Shark Tank’ and thinking “I could so do that — And I know they’d give ME the investment!”?

You’re not alone. 63% of people under the age of 45 aspire to own their own business. That number drops to under 20% for anyone over that age.

What about the rest of us? Well, some do get jobs and do you know what those aspiring entrepreneurs eventually do in the work force? You guessed it. Management!

Because management contains so many of the basic properties of owning your own business people gravitate to and from the notion of owning something of their own and managing something for somebody else. Both are immensely valuable in today’s marketplace.

Cash handling, scheduling, payroll, checklists, opening, closing, customer service, and of course leadership make up any solid manager’s work load. Being a manager is a lot like entrepreneurship — except they issue you a helmet, pads, and training wheels. Boy does it still hurt when you crash and fall though.

I don’t care if you sign the front of the checks for your company or only the backside. You have a real chance at taking your career — and your life to the next level by becoming a better leader. A servant leader.

Being a servant leader is not becoming a slave to your employees and their vision. It’s actually quite the opposite. It means that you’re highly confident and self aware of who you are, where you want to go, and where you think your company should be. Once you’re comfortable with these things you’ll be able to give up all of this micro ‘control’ you’ve holding on so tightly to.

The Principles of a Servant Leader

  1. Show Up: Dont just say that you’re about your employees. BE about them. Show up physically, emotionally, mentally, and of course spiritually for your employees. Show up for them first and they will come around to your mission.
  2. Influence — Don’t Micromanage: You know who you are. You know how much work it took. You and your family and friends know how many long hours and how many social functions you missed. Don’t lay this on your employees. Don’t get so involved with their work that they feel crippled to your thoughts and ways on doing things. Give them a clear example of what you believe is right and true. They will follow when this becomes abundantly clear — or they will not agree and leave.
  3. Develop Strengths: I spent the first 7 years of my leadership career tearing people down [and their weaknesses]. I didn’t do it to consciously build myself up. I was just lied to and told to tell people that they need to stop sucking at what they…. suck at. Don’t — This is a trap. Seek peoples’ strengths and ultimate potential. Sit them down. Eat with them. Tell them what you see [even if they don’t], and offer them the ability to start doing things that promote these strengths. These are human beings who have a thirst and hunger to make an impact and make an income along the way.
  4. Listen, Listen, Listen: Not every word that ever came out of someone else’s mouth is going to change your life and take you to the next level. Listening is about more than just ‘Leveling up’, it’s about gaining context on those you lead. Context creates perspective, and if you have the right perspective on your team you’re going to understand them on a whole new level — and lead them to one too.
  5. Be a Resource: You have the title, you get a lot of the credit, you have the authority, and you probably have all of the equity. What more do you want? Spend your time on your employees — not your customers. Your customer is your employee. Their customer is… The customer. If you’re strong, help them lift things. If you’re great with words, assist them in writing out that letter or the next ad you’re running. If you’re tall, grab something off of the top shelf for them. These are your strengths and they should be a resource for your employees to use at all times. Not something to lord over them.
  6. Let’s Get Personal: How personal you are or aren’t with your team is 100000% up to you. Whether you’d like to buy your employee’s son a gift for their birthday, or you’d love to pray over an employee that’s going through a stressful time — those are your boundaries that you create and cultivate. What I can certainly suggest you do is that whatever boundaries you [and your amazing employees] decide on — play inside them so hard that you come home tired every day. Exhaust yourself digging into your teams’ lives and what they care about, what troubles them, and what makes them smile. When you die your collegues and teammates will not comment on how well you printed out invoices, or sold product, or even how organized you were. They will comment — and remember forever how amazing you were in relation to the things you preached, and how much value you brought to their lives.

Are You Ready To Gamble Everything You’ve Been Taught About Leadership?

Right now you or somebody you know — or 2 million people you dont — are thinking, pondering, planning, and scheming on how they’re either going to move up in management or start their own business altogether.

Today is the perfect day to read these principles over and make that leap. I don’t think it matters if you’re a third generation entrepreneur or a 28 year old that never had an opportunity given to him/her ever. You need to decide today if you’re going to keep leading how the world, your dad, the ‘boss’, or your gut are telling you to. Or — are you willing to take on an entirely effective [and forgotten] way of leading that will help secure: deadlines, positions, jobs, careers, businesses, and ultimately results?

This is more than just the micro results we’re talking about here. This is about the macro legacy that you can leave. Take the time, learn who you are. Learn what you want out of this life. Reflect and project on where you see your company going. Find your ‘Why’. Hold on to this vision tightly. And then I want you to put it all in your pocket for a little while.

Becoming a servant leader will chnge your life and your career because it will test, refine, and ultimately tell you time and time again if you’ve actually got the heart to run a scalable business. Adopting this model of leadership will actually make you more valuable to your clients, investors, and ultimately your employees.

Servant leadership is something more important than even anything written above — it’s the perfect example of how you want others to lead in your company.