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Leading from a Place of Service

People who are placed in a position of authority over others, in organizations of any kind, have a moral mandate to lead.  This is not an option, rather a deep responsibility.  From the moment a person is placed in this position, people automatically begin looking to them for leadership.

This processes happens on its own, without effort on the leaders part. However, the leader, when assuming that place, must make the active choice to lead.  This part is not automatic.  What’s more, once there, the leader must earn the right to lead every day they are in that role.

First of all, let’s establish that most people go into these roles with the best of intentions, and plan to do a good job.  They work to understand their responsibilities and make plans to meet them.  Very often leadership is expressed, either as a line item responsibility, or sometimes in the title, like Team Leader.  What is most often missing is what that actually means.

Most job responsibilities at this level are around management, and focus people on the mechanics of their job and the system they are supposed to lead.  On top of that, most of these roles have plenty to do, and very often people are strongly focused on getting started and getting results as soon as possible.

In reality, both the job descriptions and prior experience tend to have leaders looking more closely at the technical portion of their role than the human side.  While we strive for results in business, it is often very compelling to be heads down for results.  This can make us inaccessible and disconnected from people.

The skill that so often gets overlooked is that of sensing the environment, of scanning what is happening around the work.

We call the skill organization awareness, and it consists of being able to see the interconnections made up of the key relationships that create the work system.  Leaders need to develop their ability to see the organization through these relationships, and therein find their connection to the organization.  A leader, in fulfilling their moral mandate to lead, must look for and find the greater good, or the common purpose that needs to be led towards. This is where inspiration can occur.  This is where people will put discretionary effort.

The approach that evolves here is one of looking at the greater good, then looking for how to be of service to those who are working to accomplish it.  A person in a leadership role who looks to be served will most likely be driving the organization down.  On the other hand, a person in that role who looks to serve others will be creating an organization resonance that creates shared energy.  Combine that with a clear goal, and the organization performance can soar.

In short – find the greater good for all.  Stand for it and aspire to accomplish it.  Learn to see the relationships that create the organization.  Find how to serve those relationships, and watch things start to happen.

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