Vision: Character of a Servant Leader (Servant Leadership #2)
Last time, we talked about what Servant Leadership is. Let’s go to the practical side and see how we implement the idea of servant leadership in practice.
There are several characteristics of a servant leader, they include…
Let’s start by talking about Vision. Vision of course is a very important aspect of leadership. Vision provides direction so that a leader can lead. Vision is the heart of leadership. But when we talk about vision for a servant leader, it’s slightly different.
Robert Greenleaf said, Servant leadership “begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead.”
A servant leader sees a need, and he desires to serve the people in need, to meet that need. This may sounds a lot like a non-profit or a charity, but it actually makes a lot of business sense. Let me share with you two real stories.
A young Chinese student attended a seminar in 1938 and learned about the high protein property of soybean. A year later, he volunteered in a refugee camp in Hong Kong, serving refugees from Mainland China, who fled the Chinese civil war. He noticed that the refugees suffered malnutrition. So he bought a stone grinder, soybeans, sugar and cheesecloth and started making soybean milk. This eventually grows into a business empire that reaches 40 countries.
Another story comes from India. In an earthquake in 2001, many in India suffered huge losses. A young man who inherited a struggling family business read in the newspaper, “Fridge of the poor broken”. He decided to do something about it and eventually invented a fridge made out of clay and does not require electricity. His business has flourished since.
What about you? What needs are you meeting through your business? How can you meet the needs of the people you lead? Is there a higher purpose in your business? The answers to these questions provide the very first draft of your vision statement. Sometimes answers don’t come immediately. I know many leaders get their answers from their spiritual life, because ultimately faith gives answers to purpose and direction. And many leaders get their answers by talking to coaches too.
After you have your answers, you will need to write it in such a way that can inspire people to join you, and you need to have some effective ways to communicate your vision, and some ways to implement your vision in your day to day operations. But at least answering these questions give you the first step.
In the next article, we will talk about another important characteristic of a servant leader: listening. How can we listen so that people feel understood and connected and be willing to trust us. Trust is the currency of leadership and it starts from listening.