Boss or servant?

By Carol A. Walker via hbr.org   Article

New Managers Need a Philosophy About How They’ll Lead

“Being promoted to manager is a good sign you’ve been successful to date — however,  the road from this point forward gets trickier to navigate. Your job is no longer just about getting the work done. You’re more likely now to find yourself juggling conflicting demands, delivering difficult messages, and addressing performance problems. While there is no guidebook of straightforward answers to your new challenges, having a clear philosophy can provide a firm foundation from which to operate. …

The idea of ‘servant leadership’ is a great place for new managers to start. Robert Greenleaf coined the term 35 years ago, but the concept is still vital and empowering. Granted, ‘servant’ doesn’t sound nearly as powerful as ‘boss,’ but it has the potential to deliver far more of what most of us are really after: influence.  The reason is simple. When you have a servant mentality, it’s not about you. Removing self-interest and personal glory from your motivation on the job is the single most important thing you can do to inspire trust. When you focus first on the success of your organization and your team, it comes through clearly. You ask more questions, listen more carefully, and actively value others’ needs and contributions. The result is more thoughtful, balanced decisions. People who become known for inclusiveness and smart decisions tend to develop influence far more consistently than those who believe they have all the answers.

Servant leadership is most powerful when applied to managing employees. The first step in embracing this mindset is to stop thinking that your employees work for you. Instead, hold onto the idea that they work for the organization and for themselves. Your role as servant is to facilitate the relationship between each employee and the organization. Ask yourself, ‘What will it take for this employee to be successful in this relationship?’ And, ‘What does the organization need to provide in order to hold up its end of the bargain?’ When these questions drive your thinking, you advance both parties’ interests. (The same principles apply to managing products, supply chains, and customer relationships, but we’ll keep our focus on employees here.)”

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