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The 10 commandments of servant leadership

It is paramount that we are finding the secret sauce to engage our workforce


There are many different leadership styles for you to choose from, from transformational, to delegative, transactional and participative. There are positive and negative elements to every style, but choosing one can be hard. In this article, allow me to make a case for the best foundational leadership style that everyone should follow, and that is servant leadership. In short, to lead it is necessary you serve others first.

Leadership is a verb; it’s an action, and you must show that action every day. The days of command and control, and leading from a position of authority are over. As leaders, it is vital that we are there for the workforce’s success and not think it is the other way around. The true measurement of leadership success is how engaged, satisfied and productive the workforce is.

Moreover, if your job as a leader is to get work done through other people, then it is essential to get the very best out of those people. It is paramount that we are finding the secret sauce to engage our workforce. This is where the art and science of servant leadership comes into play.

Here are the 10 commandments of servant leadership:

  1. Be an empathic leader
  2. Practice active listening skills
  3. Be self-aware
  4. Practice healing
  5. Conceptualize and develop a vision
  6. Be able to persuade, not demand
  7. Have foresight
  8. Perform stewardship
  9. Build a sense of community
  10. Be committed to growing others

How to serve your workforce

Being a servant leader and developing the above characteristics will not happen overnight. You must research and study these elements to determine the best way to intertwine them into your leadership ability. For now, let me give you some tips on how you can show a sense of service to your workforce.

  • Place others before yourself. Show respect to everyone, regardless of their position or status. Recognize the needs of your team and do everything you can to serve them. Encourage self-respect and demonstrate confidence in others for them to see their self-worth.
  • Set a vision for success. Helen Keller wrote, “the only thing worse than being blind, is having sight and with no vision.” You need to be committed to set a vision for the success of the organization and the individuals in it.
  • Show belief in the team. With an engaged workforce, you will see the benefits moving forward. It is crucial to remember that honorable business practices will decrease long-term risk.
  • Empower your workforce. Leaders need to break down the barriers and create an environment where employee growth can happen. Develop the practice to cultivate a sense of ownership for work responsibilities. By empowering others, it will allow them to make needed decisions for their responsibilities.
  • Show appreciation. Always put members of your workforce first, and always show noticeable gratitude for members of your team. This should be a proactive practice, and something done every day.
  • Remove your ego. Your job is to work for the employees and not the other way around. When you are a servant leader, you serve with humility. It is an honor to lead people, and when you think otherwise, you are primed to be replaced. Ask others how you are leading them. One of the questions I would ask my workforce, was, “what advice do you have for me to be a better leader for you?” You should never stop developing yourself to the next level.
  • Never allow emotions to dictate your actions. This is my number one rule. Of course, this was a hard lesson to learn, as it was not an early practice of mine. Keep yourself flexible and know that changes may need to occur – but it is all about business and not personal.

Servant leadership is a great foundational leadership style to practice. Being of service to others should be at the core of all you do.

What about all those other leadership styles? You need to practice them as well. Leadership style is like a palette of color for a painter. The way you lead a 20-year employee is not the way you lead a 6-month employee. While you may be more delegative with the 20-year employee, you may need to be more autocratic with a 6-month employee. Just remember, to lead, you must be of service first.

Chris Cebollero is a nationally recognized Emergency Medical Services leader, best selling author, and advocate. Chris is a member of the Forbes Coaching Council and available for speaking, coaching and mentoring. Currently Chris is the president/CEO for Cebollero & Associates, a medical consulting firm, assisting organizations in meeting the challenges of tomorrow. Cebollero is a member of the EMS1 Editorial Advisory Board. Follow Chris on Twitter @ChiefofEMS and on FaceBook.

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