We've been featuring excerpts from the recently released e-book The Selfless Leader. Previous excerpts are from Jo Anne Lyon, Mark L. Vincent, Dan Busby Tim Hanifen and Scott Rodin. Here is one from Congressman Tim Walberg
Leadership is as old as, well…God Himself. And yet, leadership can happen any time two people are in a relationship. It happened with Adam and Eve, Noah, Moses, Paul and Timothy, Joan of Arc, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill,General Patton, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mike Ditka, Michael Jordan, Ronald Reagan, Malala Yousafzai, Barack Obama and the list goes on. Some of these leaders were good, strong and effective. Some were weak, manipulative and controlling. But they all led, in one way or another.
We’ve all experienced leaders who motivate, irritate, inspire, confuse, resource us, and maybe even abuse us. We generally assume that a leader has personal desires for success and the willingness to do what it takes to achieve that success.
But is there a type of leader who motivates for success of a project, in a team concept, without thought for themselves? In the process of leading, is it possible to bring the team to a sense of empowerment and personal achievement that enables them to experience success and personal growth individually and as a team? Can a leader with this type of team success remain as it were in the shadows?
If so, that would be an example of a self-less leader.
Looking back over my working life I can identify leaders who were consistently self-less in their leadership. They not only led a team to succeed in projects and tasks, but they enabled me to expand my sense of achievement and increased my desire to accomplish greater challenges. I sensed that these leaders cared more for me than just using my services to complete a task. They communicated through word and attitude, goal setting and affirmation that they truly cared for me. It was evident, though unspoken, that these leaders were truly interested in preparing me and other team members for greater responsibilities even with other organizations....
[An] aid to developing self-less leadership is regular evaluation and feedback from those I lead. I have found great benefit from both direct requests for specific evaluation and broadly implied permission for my staff to evaluate my positions, plans, and strategies. Those direct requests for evaluation often take the form of questions like “What do you think?” “Does this make sense?” “How do you feel about the situation?” “Do you feel resourced?” and “Did I blow it?
These and similar other requests have been extremely positive for my team members. Though sometimes humbling for me, and a bit threatening at times for a staff member, this openness has developed a greater sense of ownership and freedom for my team to take the responsibility for a project with an enhanced sense of personal and team reward upon successful completion. It hasn’t diminished my leadership in any way either. I’ve had the benefit of positive and creative feedback, and they have been given release to participate in still greater ways.