I had a breakthrough “Aha!” moment when I realized that leadership doesn’t come out of knowledge, but it comes from the heart. You can have all the knowledge in the world and understand how all the pieces should fit together, but servant leadership comes from the passion and desire to lead others because you truly care about them.
Much of the time a leader acts selfishly, with their ego, or they are leading with their head and not their heart. Sometimes it does pay to be smart, but other times (especially during the most challenging situations) you can get off-course pretty quickly if you don’t have a purpose or a passion.
I had a situation several years ago where one of our team members was shy and didn’t talk very much. On the surface it appeared as if they just wanted to be left alone to do their job and go home. But when you’re leading an organization or a team, you’ll eventually realize that everybody wants to be appreciated and talked to no matter what kind of personality they have. We all want to have a relationship with the people around us. However, some people are much more open to that relationship than others. At the end of the day, humans need relationships, and cultivating those relationships is a big component of leadership.
The important thing for leaders to do is communicate the why and uncover the big picture. Many people would just as soon not take on responsibility and not be a key component of a project or team, no matter how smart they are. They would rather just naturally push away responsibility. I’m not claiming that that’s a good thing—I’m saying that a leader should give others purpose and make sure they can invest themselves into a task even though it could result in growing pains. We have the ability to nudge people to reach their potential, despite the fact that it’s challenging and sometimes uncomfortable.
When someone is given the chance to grow and seize the opportunity in front of them (even though it may be hard), that person will always look back and appreciate the leader for allowing them to see the big picture and to know that they were a part of something bigger than themselves.
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