[Editor's Note: This is a guest post by Terry Bright. To find out about writing guest content for LDRLB, check out our submission guidelines.]
After watching a few hours of TV, it’s easy to spot our culture’s image of an ideal leader. Brash, fearless and unpredictable; he or she marches toward a single goal, willing others to follow through charm and determination. This portrayal appeals to many business leaders who envision themselves following their guts to mastermind slick deals and innovative business models.
The problem is, that’s not how leadership works. Certainly, there’s a time for business leaders to do their best George Washington impersonation and lead their troops across the Delaware river, but as Robert Greenleaf reminds us, great leaders are born from a spirit of service.
Rather than dreaming up master plans in the corner office, an effective business leader serves both his clients and employees relentlessly.
Leaders Aren’t Stars
Oftentimes, a misguided view of leadership starts at the appointment. Managers see potential in stellar employees that stand out above their peers, so they promote them to a position of power hoping their secret sauce will rub off on the other employees. This shallow achievement-based leadership structure only goes so far, though. Employees that don’t have the same gifts and strengths as their excelling peer are left to reinvent themselves without support or coaching.
It’s not wrong to promote excelling employees, but they won’t succeed in leading others unless they’re willing to relinquish their star status. Businesses thrive when leaders work to create an environments in which their followers can succeed. Like a basketball star turned coach, an effective leader succeeds by putting others in the right positions rather than shooting the ball himself.
In less attractive terms, a good leader charged with overseeing a team performing Capital Processing Network jobs wouldn’t take his team’s leads to try to sell credit card processing equipment himself, he would ask his team members what they needed to better sell the equipment themselves and respond to their requests.
Customers Come First
Unlike dictators, who can lead to promote their own glory, businesses leaders answer to a third party: the customer. No matter how charismatic or influential a business leader acts, he or she will not lead successfully without a sincere commitment to meeting the customers needs. Leaders that shape the way their companies interact with consumers must put themselves in the customer’s shoes in order to succeed.
Certainly, business leaders have gotten by serving their own interests, but at some level, these leaders had to set aside their own interests to consider the customer. As this sentiment grows, a leader becomes more in tune with the person her serves, and consumers respond to the service with loyal patronage.
A New Outlook
This misinterpreted view of leadership needs an upgrade, though some may perceive it as a downgrade. The modern leader should take on the persona of a butler. Consistently tasked with performing lowly duties, a cherished butler constantly looks for new ways to enhance the life of his employer. Never reluctant to share a kind word, a butler thinks of others first before addressing his own needs.
Something happens as a butler serves consistently, though — he gains respect and influence from those he serves. What more could a business leader ask for?