The world would be better if everyone, regardless of their role, carried a SIDE of leadership.
Service: Be of service. Help. Assist. Act on behalf of others. Serve people, or a cause, an idea, beyond yourself.
Integrity: Hold yourself to honest and strong moral principles. Integrity takes time to build. Be trustworthy. Make your word mean something.
Dignity: Honor and have respect for others. You do not have to agree with them. When you treat others with dignity, regardless of your perception of their station in life, you are providing leadership. Doing so builds your own.
Empathy: Pause to imagine and share in what someone else is thinking and feeling. See people where they are, from their perspective. Cheer and weep with them. So they feel heard, if not understood.
Every situation has nuance. Your own methods may harm or they may heal. This is not to say your personal standards and practices do not work. Your tried and true ways could very well be the meat and potatoes of your leadership style. These four elements, however, set the table. They take away the savagery, and the carnival atmosphere that attracts so much attention. Think of what happens when leaders lack these attributes.
Self-serving leaders are not followed for long. When integrity is questioned, trust crumbles. The loss of dignity and empathy are perhaps the biggest deficit in previously trusted institutions.
All the cumulative lack incites plenty of anger and fear, justified or not. The raging fires should not be stoked and allowed to consume reason. Instead, they should be addressed, contained, and extinguished.
Imagine for a moment.
Imagine a world where everyone acted in service to others. Regardless of position or persuasion they shared their time, treasure or talent with others in need.
Imagine a world where one’s integrity was genuinely assumed, not regularly suspected.
Imagine a world where every person was so confident in their self-worth, that they could in turn, be respectful to others. Wherever they sat or stood, they embodied dignity, and treated others with grace. Think how bright the place would glow.
Imagine shelving the phrase, “I told you so”; packing away prior notions and biases to instead deliver empathy to those who are pained. Think how we would grow.
Here’s a way to bring life to those imaginations. As you plan your day, or prior to engaging someone or something ask yourself;
How will I bring service, integrity, dignity, and empathy to the situation?
Pondering this question helps set your intention and allow you to act deliberately.
Then, as an after action review, or in the evening when you reflect on the day, ask yourself;
-Did I bring service today?
-Did I bring integrity today?
-Did I bring dignity today?
-Did I bring empathy today?
If you limit your answers to yes, no, or not applicable, your leadership will either have had a net negative effect, net positive effect, or no effect, on the world. If it was no effect, try harder tomorrow, if it was negative, make amends. If it was positive, enjoy some satisfaction and keep going.
If you are a servant leader devoted to ongoing improvement but frequently caught in the unrelenting pounding surf of organizational reluctance, it can be difficult. The odds can feel overwhelming, the rewards ephemeral, however, if leading is your calling, not your prize, do not block it from the world. The world needs your unique expression.
Yes, continue to extol the virtues of great men and women … and children who organize, visualize, and mobilize others to pursue a cause. Also, begin to groom it in yourself. You can always learn to manage better and lead well.