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Leadership is about being of service to others, not being served by others. To be straightforward – be a mentor and not a boss.

How often have you seen some very successful leaders, who have grown with confidence, get caught up in their egos? You know them. I’m talking about the kind of leader that always needs to be right. The kind of leader that wants to be seen as intelligent or clever, like they are the ones that come up with all the creative solutions, even at the expense of their team, taking credit for everything.

These kinds of leaders are in for themselves; they often have trouble listening and are not big on people skills. They are more likely to bark at you than find out what really is going on with you, let alone listen to anything you have to say.

Being of service to others

You can pick up these types of leaders from a mile away. When you talk to a leader that is of service to others, they will make you feel important. They will ask a question like “what can I do for you?” On the other hand, a leader that is driven by ego and power will make you feel as if they are more important than anybody else and they will tell you what they want from you. Instead of a kind question, they would rather order you to “do this by tomorrow”.

One of my mentors once told me that an audience would stay as long as you perform; however, a community will stay as long as you serve. Your personal fulfilment involves you helping others – being of service.

We as leaders are not the experts

Now, if you think you have all the answers and you know it all, you might as well stay in bed and not waste anyone’s time. If you think you are the expert in your field, this is what is called a stuck mindset and not a learning mindset. If you ’know it all’, your tolerances to listening to others are slim. This, if anything, is conducive to your growth.

A learning mindset, on the other hand, is open to other ways of doing things. One with this way of thinking is open to the idea that someone else may come up with a better idea than them, even if they have been in the industry, role or position for longer and have a lot more experience.

We all have a unique and special talent

Each of us has a particular gift. It is a talent, skill or craft that we do exceptionally well. It that comes natural to us. In this regard, some leaders are natural at being of service to others. In saying that, other leaders have to work at it, as this is not their default position.

Throughout my career, people have continually approached me for advice or empathy regarding their problems. I assist them wherever I can by understanding their problem, clarifying it and exploring possible solutions with them. This is how I am of ‘service’ to others. It’s about them, not me. It’s how I help them achieve what they want and I do it gladly, selflessly, with no expectations in return.

I can’t describe the kind of reward I get from helping others. Being of service is fulfilling and I get a deep sense of happiness. When this is evident for me, I know that I am on purpose. Every genuine leader who focuses on being of service and not being served by others will experience a similar feeling. It is priceless.

Serviceable leadership by helping others

We define service leadership as a vital step in service learning. Once a person fully understands the concept of ‘learning’ by helping others, he or she begins to grow personally as a leader. Like the great Gandhi once said – the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.

We make a living by what we get. However, we make a life by what we give. What kind of leader do you want to be?