Commitment to Growth: Character of a Servant Leader

This is my 5th post on Servant Leadership. We gave an introduction to this idea of Servant Leadership, then we explore the practical side by unpacking some of the characters of a Servant Leader. We unpacked a little bit about Vision…. Listening…. Persuasion…. and this time we will give some thoughts on growth.

A Servant Leader, or a good leader, commits to the growth of those he/she leads. What does it mean?

First of all, it means that a good leader does not consider his/her subordinates tools to achieve the end. Bad leaders see employees as tools for achieving results, good leaders rise above this mentality.

Every morning, look into your bathroom mirror, mention the people under you by name and tell yourself, "They are not my tools."

Second, you as a leader take responsibility of the growth of your team. As a leader, it is part of your job description to develop your team, to improve the performance, the skills, the productivity of your team and to expand their horizons.

A good leader listens to the people, understands in what area they want to grow in, what the obstacles are, etc. Instead of giving advice immediately, a good leader asks good questions, to try to help the people to come up with their own solutions. Also, a good leader will direct the conversations, to bring focus into the conversations. If it’s in a work environment, the conversations about growth should focus on work, the growth they are seeking should help them do their jobs better, faster, more efficiently. Also the conversations need to focus on action steps they can take to see real growth.

To commit to the growth of the people also means that leaders commit resources to help them grow.

It can mean that the company invests in their growth, because their growth will bring better results. Or it may mean books, training, seminars for people to attend. It may also mean special development time or development leave.

A good leaders also model growth themselves. They are telling their teams that they are not perfect, and are also committing time and effort to improve themselves.

E.g. David is bad at answering emails, and everybody in his team knows about it. So, he can let his team know that he is aware of his own problem, and tell them his plan to improve. If for some reason, he failed to improve, he can let his team know why and try again. If he indeed achieves some progress, his team will be encouraged to improve too. This is how a leader can help shape the culture of his team.

Finally, a leader needs to provide some form of framework or template for his people so that everyone has a common language when they talk about their growth.

In blog posts on personal growth, I said that the path of growth is like a journey from point A to point B.

So, to make a plan for personal growth, we need to spend time to understand and explore point A and point B, and everything in between. This provides a common language for the whole team or even the whole company to talk about growth. To find out more about this, please go to my posts on personal growth.

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