I spoke recently to a good friend who told me a story about the leader that was just hired to take over her organization. This new director came in on the first day, introduced himself only to the senior staff, spoke in a very authoritative and dominant way and let everyone know “a new sheriff was in town.”
When I heard this story, before even halfway through, I knew where it was going: Meet the new boss, intentionally much different than the old boss (to paraphrase the words of Roger Daltrey from The Who). In fact, so different, that individual will immediately let you know just how different.
Not really interested in getting to know the other people in the organization, different. Not feeling like they owe their valuable time to the lower-level folks, different. Obnoxious, different.
In order for business and personal relationships to thrive, we as individuals have to begin with an open extension of empathy. Empathy must be genuine and heartfelt — otherwise, everyone will know they’re dealing with a phoney. So in order to empathize and show you care, you have to want to get to know others. You have to put others first, not yourself.
Being a servant leader means putting the interests of others above your own. You’ve probably seen some variation of these words before, but ask yourself the following questions: Do you put others before yourself in the workplace, among your friends or in your school setting? If you’re afraid to do this, why? What is the cost to you?
If you’re afraid to be vulnerable, ditch that fear. The vulnerability is one of the greatest traits you can espouse.