In service or servant leadership you need to lead both with a focus on service to those benefiting from the end result and on those who work to achieve the objectives. Service leaders are willing to place empowerment above personal power, contribution above their own ego satisfaction and the needs of the team above their own needs for credit and acclaim.
However this all means nothing unless you first know how to lead! This is where I found the High Performance Leadership (HPL) project in Toastmasters particularly useful as you learn by doing to develop your leadership skills when undertaking this project. The project covers learning leadership skills, putting the skills in action and then receiving feedback on your performance and progress.
In June 2015 I completed my High Performance Leadership Project (HPL) in EMC Ireland Toastmasters Forum. This for me was one of the best leadership learnings on my journey, not only in Toastmasters but in Leadership.
The project focuses on vital leadership areas including:
- Developing a mission and vision
- Goal-setting and planning
- Identifying values
- Building a team
It is an evaluated project with feedback given on leadership skills at each of the following steps:
- Learning About Leadership
- Choosing Your Objective
- Winning Commitment to Your Objective
- Working the Plan
- Analyzing and Presenting Results
The first step you take is to evaluate and assess your existing leadership skills, and identify your strengths and skills that need improving. These cover six focus areas of Service Leadership, namely Vision and Values, Direction, Persuasion, Support, Development and Appreciation.
Once you have completed this assessment you need to choose a project or objective that will allow you to develop these skills. You also need to organise a guidance committee that will help and guide you through strategic planning and feedback on your journey. Members of the committee should include mentors and people whose experience will help you and whose opinion you respect.
A project will only succeed if everyone knows what they are doing and why. This is where developing a vision and mission statement is crucial. With a clear vision and a clear purpose you will create a project that is organised and successful.
When you and your team have created the vision and mission, and have your committee in agreement for your project, it is time to put the plan into action. During this process you will develop skills of a team leader through delegation, planning and conflict resolution. You will help the team members develop through appreciation and empowerment.
Finally when the project is completed you review what you have learned on the journey, and re-assess your skills again in the six focus areas. You should hopefully have learned more about yourself and how to work with others. And, of course, through learning by doing, you have improved your servant leadership skills.
My key learnings include teamwork = success, delegation = empowerment, and acknowledgement of great work is invaluable!