Serving to Lead or Leading to Serve – The One Thing Everyone Needs

Recently, through my own personal study and reading, as well as my involvement with charitable and philanthropic organizations I have been studying the concept and principles of Servant Leadership. The good news for you and me is that nothing has changed here. The same principles that applied through generations of different leaders are still true today.

What is new to me, as I relearn these principles, is how appropriate and time-tested they truly are. Moreover, the one major component of developing, building, and maintaining servant leadership that is so needed in our world today is one simple, yet elusive characteristic. When you read it, your tendency will be to roll your eyes or scoff and move on to the next thing. But, I challenge you to hang in with me to the end of this post. If you’re like me, you will derive great value from reengaging with this quality.

The one thing that everyone needs, wants, and is clamoring for today? Trust. Read it again. Trust. I could quickly devolve into all of the reasons and excuses why people are less trustworthy today than ever before but there are plenty of outlets that are happy to continue down this pointless path if you choose to follow them.

I believe, and I challenge you to join me that developing trust with other people is such a powerful, life-changing exercise that is worth your best efforts to begin today. Before I give you a few tips on how to build trust, allow me to express more fully why I believe it is so important. 

Stephan Covey famously said, “seek first to understand. Then be understood.” Although Saint Francis of Assisi started the idea about 700 years before the late great, author, the idea clearly passes the test of time. My question and challenge to you is, “is it more important to be right, or to be vulnerable? You see, being vulnerable for many of us is not easy. But it is where learning and growth come from.

In a world that has experienced too much hurting, judgment, and oppression, we are sorely in need of people who are willing to listen and understand other people’s points of view and why they believe what they believe. There is nothing wrong with learning from someone with an opposing point of view. One of two things happen – and they are both beneficial. You gain more knowledge and understanding about other people or you become even more solidified in why you believe what you believe. Either way, you win. But so does the other person. Why? Because someone, presumably different from them in some way, went out of their way to seek to understand. 

I could write much more about why you need to go out of your way to reach out to others. It is self-serving to say, but if you want to read more about this, it is the overarching theme of the book I published in 2020, Mustard Seed Faith.  It might be important to note that every dollar I make on the sale of my book I donate to charity. Let’s now shift our focus to the How 

Whether you lead a team of one (yourself) or a team of 100,000, you should strive to be a servant leader. I can scarcely think of a better way to make 2022 a great year, whatever comes your way, than by going out of your way to serve and lead others, even if you’re doing it only for yourself.

If you read my content often, this will not be a new idea, but the single best and easiest way to build trust is to listen and ask questions. How many times have you miscommunicated (or worse) with someone you are having a discussion with because you were focused on what you want to say next instead of asking a question to get more clarity on their position? Not only will this build connection and trust with that person, but it will give you more time to consider your response.

Since so few people are willing to work on these traits, you will stand out and quickly become thought of more highly if you make the effort. If you’re not sure how to start this, allow me to help you with a very simple acronym I heard yesterday. Here are three categories of questions for which you could ask innumerable questions in order to gain clarity, connection, and trust.

Tell me more – i.e. Do you have any other thoughts about that? This can be asked multiple times

Explain – i.e. What experiences have you had that make you feel that way?

Define – i.e. What does that mean to you personally?

I would love for you to practice working TED into the conversations you have this week and see what a difference it makes for you. I am betting that it will be transformational. The world needs more people who will serve others and lead by example. Are you willing to do what it takes to become a person who can Be Different, Act Different, and Make a Difference? I would love to hear from you in the comments. 

Did you enjoy this article? If you haven’t already, please be sure to subscribe to this blog, where I post every Tuesday. You can also get additional free content by subscribing to my YouTube channel or following me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn.

I also invite you to review my coaching page on my website here. I have only a couple of spots left in my Personal Development Coaching Practice. Each week I offer two free strategy sessions on a first-come, first-served basis to people interested in exploring how to become a person who pursues their goals and dreams. These special hour-long sessions prove again and again to be invaluable to those who participate. You can book these directly on my coaching page – I look forward to serving you.

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