One of the most absolute truths of leadership I know is this: you can care about someone without leading them but you cannot truly lead someone without caring for them.
That being the case, the first step in learning to lead is learning that it is not a weakness to show that you care. It is in fact a tremendous strength that all truly Authentic Servant Leaders possess.
The second step is to care. Really, really care. Really caring about the person or people you would lead. Truly caring about them means caring more about what you can do for them than what they can do for you or your organization.
If you’re expecting your people to care more about your organization or it’s customers than you care about them then you’re expecting too much. People won’t care for your customers because you pay them to, they will however care about your customers when they feel cared about themselves.
At it’s core leadership is about people. You must understand that you don’t really lead an organization, you lead the people who put the “organize” in organization. If you forget that, even for a moment, then you are likely to start treating your people like the machines that do your copying and computing.
When your people are just another piece of your organization’s capital then you’re likely trying to manage your people and not lead them. But your people are not capital, they are human beings. They have the same kinds of struggles, challenges, hopes and dreams going on in their lives as you do. The reason I so dislike the term “human capital” is that it causes leaders to forget that they are leading real live human beings.
Caring for your people must be more then a thought, it must be an action. You know (and so do your people) that you truly care about your people when their success means as much to you as your own.
When you’re willing to sacrifice some of your own freedoms, some of your own recognition and maybe even some of your own success to help others succeed then you’re not just occupying a leadership position, you’re truly an Authentic Servant Leader.
Every single person that you have the opportunity to lead is unique and special. They matter and they can make a difference for your organization. It’s up to you as a leader to find their strengths and help them to develop and use them.
When they see you doing that that will also see you caring about them as people. They will know that they not only matter but that they matter to you.
The question is do you have the courage to actually show that you care? If you do then you likely will earn that lofty level of leadership.
To get there you must always remember, don’t just lead, lead with care!