A few years back, garbage pickup at my house was every Friday morning. If you didn’t remember to put the trash out by 7:00 a.m. you had to hold on to your garbage for another week. Yuck!
One Friday morning, I forgot to put the garbage bins out by 7:00 a.m. I remembered when I heard the squeaky truck make its turn down my street and around my corner. Darn. I missed trash pickup.
A few minutes later the phone rang. It was my garbage pickup company. They noticed that my bins weren’t near the curb as usual and asked if I wanted a truck to return to pick them up. I said, “Are you serious?” The lady said, “Yes, absolutely. We will return in a few minutes and empty your bins.” I said, “Thank you!” I could hardly believe it.
The garbage company was more interested in serving me, the customer, than keeping a rigorous schedule.
This simple act of kindness was a reflection of the CEO’s goal—to serve, delight and even surprise the customer. He shared his goal with the team. Would I dream of leaving this garbage company for a competitor—even if they offered a discount? Absolutely not!
The company had become an excellent example of servant-leadership and it begs the question in our personal and professional lives; do we serve others or seek to be served?
What is Servant-Leadership?
Servant-Leadership is finding joy in serving others with a humble heart. A servant-leader delights in putting others first, rolling up his sleeves and doing whatever it takes with excellence to help others win—the team, employees, customers and the community.
Public Relations requires a keen, sharp, listening ear. Even if the client is incapable of fully articulating his needs, a servant-leader is listening for ways to serve the client—going above and beyond to meet their needs, adding value to their business, providing wise, thoughtful counsel and promoting their brand.
A Servant-Leader is Willing to Work Among the People.
While some leaders run to the head table, the servant-leader is willing to work among the people to prepare, fix, clean up, stay late with the team and work for them. He finds greatness in serving whenever and wherever needed. A servant-leader in PR is willing to run hard and fast for the client—seeking to manage a project or initiative that delights them, meets their goals and objectives, and has infinite value for the business. Further, this leader is usually serving at home, volunteering in the community and seeking out opportunities to impact the lives of others before himself.
A Servant-Leader Doesn’t Have Room in His Closet for Pridefulness–Which is the Opposite of Humility.
While he is confident, he knows that pride sets people above others instead of among them. He knows it is distracting, counterproductive and takes the focus off of the client and onto himself. A servant-leader is willing to listen and learn from others.
Servant-Leadership is Profitable.
A leader with a servanthood mindset creates a vibrant culture and generates a sense of thankfulness among the team. These lasting, positive attributes increase productivity, grows the client base and ultimately leads to a flourishing, influential, thriving business.
A Servant-Leader is Selfless.
Even in this age of the selfie, a servant-leader resists self-importance. He realizes he can’t be a servant and do work begrudgingly, work hard to show off and show up others or pick and choose who he serves. He is not interested in outshining others. He is interested in serving them.
Now answer this: Are you a Servant-Leader?
If the answer is “yes”, congratulations. Keep up the good work! If it is “no”, this is the perfect time to change. Hopefully, you will have countless opportunities to serve in the future. The great news about Servant-Leadership is it impacts all areas of your life—at home, work and in the community.
“Good leaders must first become good servants.” Robert K. Greenleaf
Sheryl R. Sellaway is a Public Relations executive with more than 20 years of experience in the telecommunications industry.