Why are so many businesses and teams in disarray these days? There is a dearth of servant leadership at a time when we need it most.
When workers are struggling to connect the dots, rig together processes from their homes that used to work seamlessly in the office, and make sure the right people see their work product, they are also struggling to follow the north star of their organizations. As a leader, what are you doing to facilitate their success?
Consider changing the way you lead teams and see what develops
Recently I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing, CEO of Raika Technologies, Cynthia Del’Aria when she summed up the function of servant leadership perfectly. She said, “I tend to view leadership as an upsidedown pyramid. Everybody thinks that leaders are at the top, but I think most organization charts are upsidedown, and the buck stops here. It’s my job to remove roadblocks, and I can usually do that by being a good listener. The best thing you can do is let good people do what they’re good at, and then you do the rest.”
Servant leadership is about concerning oneself with the experience of their community, and let’s face it; businesses are micro-communities where people are interdependent and moving toward the same goal.
So what are some ways leaders can serve their remote work constituents right now?
Here are the 10 principles of servant leadership with actions you can take today to align yourself with the community members that support you.
Listening: It’s not always about your ears, we listen with our eyes too. Be sure that you acknowledge and validate those who communicate with you – and if they don’t communicate in a way that works for you (i.e., too many emails, too many words, not the right platform) teach them to become a better communicator. There is never any reason to say, “I don’t read your emails. I’m too busy.”
Empathy: Listen with compassion and without judgment when your team brings a problem to you. Let them share what they are struggling with, why, and what other ways they might meet your goals. Showing empathy does not equate to being weak; it creates alignment and loyalty.
Healing: Allow your team members to share their ideas regarding improved relations, processes, and culture. Help them to find space in your organization to feel confident. Direct them toward work that makes them feel accomplished, proud, and heard.
Self-awareness: Be open about your shortcomings. If you know that you react poorly to being questioned, or you don’t have the patience for detailed meetings, communicate that to your staff. Let them know that together you can work through these issues because, to do their jobs, your team needs you to be present and patient. Dig deep if you want them to perform at their best.
Persuasion: This is all about defining the goal and enlisting help to achieve it. Persuasion is not manipulation, but rather creating buy-in and excitement. The gifts of anticipation and a shared goal are those only a true leader can offer.
Conceptualization: This trait is the ability to see the whole picture and define the impact your business has beyond sales. Take time to craft the story you want to share and the feeling you want to inspire. Share it often and remind everyone, yourself included, that you are working together to effect this change.
Foresight: Develop policy that includes input from the entire staff, so it suits the needs of those “doing the jobs that need to be done.” That is a commitment to your team, not a quick fix or new app that provides temporary results. Investment in your people is an investment in your business, and that positions you for the future.
Stewardship: You are the captain of the ship, and you decide if your mission is inclusive and helpful, or it isn’t. Set the tone and the vision by leading by example. Treat your team as your internal customers. Show them you value them by removing the roadblocks and bottlenecks in their work, let them help you design the culture and the processes by which you all perform – and remember to show gratitude. Every. Day.
Commitment to the growth of people: Implement continuing education programs and opportunities to upskill. Professional and personal growth serve your team and enhance innovation. A more insightful and fulfilled human is a more creative and independent worker. Empower your people and invest in their development.
Building community: Take time to bring the team together in a way that doesn’t feel forced. Design opportunities for information sharing, such as discussing the gates of responsibility and whom to turn to with questions. Highlight the strengths of each team member, so their peers learn to trust and rely on them, which builds cohesion and a form of ‘shorthand communication' that saves time.