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To Lead is to Serve

Every Leader has a unique style of leadership. We each learn from the Leaders in our lives – family members, coaches, bosses, teachers, friends, colleagues, public figures – and we formulate our own ways of leading. We take from both the good and bad examples, and we determine who we want to be and who we don’t want to be. Certainly, we have all worked with the dictator-type boss, the one who leads through fear and threat. Hopefully, we’ve all also worked with a more inclusive boss, the one who leads through trust and encouragement and service.

The basis of servant leadership is the exact opposite to that of a tyrant. A servant leader emboldens the people around them by providing the resources and support that they need to be successful. A servant leader listens, empathizes, and gives their subordinates, peers, and superiors the confidence to make mistakes. A servant leader recognizes an individual’s strengths and opportunities, and manages both accordingly. All of this said, servant leadership isn’t about bending over backwards, cleaning up someone else’s messes, or saying “good job” simply to make someone feel better. Rather, a servant leader is willing to make difficult decisions, to hold people accountable, and to tell their team not what they want to hear, but what they need to hear.

This concept is not new. Throughout history, we find many examples of leaders who put others before themselves – Abraham Lincoln, Ghandhi, Mother Teresa, and Nelson Mandela come to mind. The term “servant leadership” wasn’t coined until the 1970’s when Robert K. Greenleaf published Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness and said, “Good leaders must first become good servants.” More recently, the term has been expanded by entrepreneurs and experts like M. Scott Peck, John Maxwell, Gary Vaynerchuck, Simon Sinek, and Kenneth H. Blanchard. In fact, the term has been so popularized that Patrick Lencioni, author of Five Disfunctions of a Team said, “I’m tired of hearing about servant leadership because I don’t think there’s any other kind of leadership.”

While we could argue that there are other ways to lead (though perhaps not well or successfully), at Tri-Skill Consulting, we believe in servant leadership. We believe our purpose is to serve and support our team and our colleagues, and we are here to serve and support you. Reach out, and let’s talk about how we can do so.


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