To Lead Is To Serve

toleadistoserve

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!

What #ServantLeadership Means To Me

ServantLeadership

I have a great passion for Leadership, and in particular for Servant Leadership. Let me give you one reason why.

I became a Toastmaster in May 2012 when I joined EMC Ireland Toastmasters Forum. (My first ten speeches, from the Competent Communicator manual, are available to read on my earliest posts on this blog).

Part of being a Toastmaster is about taking roles at meetings, all which count towards the Competent Leader award. While working through these two manuals I also took on various officer roles. These included VP of Education (May 2012 to June 2014) and President of the Club (July 2014 to June 2015).

I was honoured to then be elected as Area Director for Area 49 which covers five Clubs in Cork; EMC Ireland Toastmasters, Apple Toastmasters, VMware Toastmasters, Bishopstown Toastmasters and Powdermills Toastmasters. This role runs from July 2015 to June 2015. I am also currently serving as Assistant Division Director for PR in Division A, District 71.

For me all of the roles mentioned above have their roots in Servant Leadership. Consider the Toastmasters Missions below: –

Toastmasters International Mission

We empower individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders.

District Mission

We build new clubs and support all clubs in achieving excellence.

Club Mission

We provide a supportive and positive learning experience in which members are empowered to develop communication and leadership skills, resulting in greater self-confidence and personal growth.

Key words from these missions are empower and support.

The description of Servant Leadership on Wikipedia is the servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible. 

You can see the similarities between the two. Why Servant Leadership appeals to me is quite simple. I want to share with others what I have learned to help them develop, and support and empower them to succeed.

Toastmasters International Values are Integrity, Respect, Service and Excellence. The skills I learned, and continue to learn, through Toastmasters are transferable and will always be of help to me, and if I can share those skills and what I have learned then how great is that!

Elaine Beare

Follow me on Twitter @elainebeare