09 May BE KIND, BE OF SERVICE – YOUR 2-POINT LEADERSHIP REFRESH
Spring has officially sprung and for some of us, it comes hay fever and mounds of yard work. The trees and flowers need care and attention to grow! Just like our gardens in spring, our focus as leaders needs to be refreshed and tended to as well.
Taking time to reflect on your purpose as a leader has real value. As leaders, our deadlines, projects, commitments and tasks often get in the way. Kindness and service to others are critical leadership skills that need to be developed and practiced regularly in a workplace in order to attract and retain employees.
Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of seeing President Barack Obama. As always, he shared his thinking in a compelling and meaningful way. One of the key messages that resonated with me was how he and Michelle shared and instilled 2 key values with their daughters – be kind and be of service.
Sounds simple enough – don’t be a jerk and be useful! For many of us it’s not always easy to put being kind first, or to see the ways we can be of service to others. Judgment of others is far easier and less taxing on us.
As an example, over the last number of weeks, I have had the great pleasure of spending time with many talented individuals who are seeking work. They do so with grace and humility. It’s an honor to spend time and exchange wisdom with them. It has helped me to remember to re-focus my energy on being kind and being of service.
Below are reminders of why kindness and service are worth re-focusing on, and simple things you can do for your own 2-point leadership refresh.
Being kind is one of the most effective and inexpensive ways we can show others we value them. When we are kind, by definition, we acknowledge the presence and importance of another. There are many ways to show kindness as a leader. Some of the most impactful ways are:
- Be responsive – share a smile, a kind word, a coffee
- Make time others – even when you have other priorities or it’s inconvenient
- Show respect– acknowledge the value of people’s time, effort and contributions
These are not new ideas, but as a leader, showing care and concern gets lost somehow in the shuffle of busyness. Employees remember leaders who have demonstrated a meaningful level of kindness – the kind that goes beyond just being polite and saying nice things in a performance review. When you combine kindness with high standards and challenging work, you inspire your team(s) to do better and model how to be better.
Be of Service
Robert Greenleaf, wrote nearly 50 years ago, in his famous Servant as Leader essay, “Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?” The answer is yes! To be of service in the workplace is to:
Remove obstacles – doing the small things to help someone move through or past a challenge that they are having right now. Sample questions sound like:
- What are you struggling with right now?
- What one thing can I take off your plate to help you?
Be seen – give others exposure to new experiences so they can share their gifts with others. For example you can ask:
- Which one of your skills would you like to use more of at work?
When you are of service to others without expectation, that service is reciprocated in abundance. It may be paid back to you or forwarded on to others. As a leader, what are the one or two things you can do right now to be of service to someone who needs what you have to offer?