“What can I do for you? In what way can I be of help for you to reach what you would like to do?”


Who asks these types of question? Doesn’t it sound like a slave or a servant? Why yes it does!

I’ve met “leaders” who say, “What can you do for me? What do you know that I can use for my benefit?” Sadly, these types of leaders are filling up positions in organizations partly because of their relentless nature.

The first questions mentioned above are questions that “servant leaders” ask. Their nature at times aren’t as flamboyant enough to be noticed for job positions, but if promoted, they would cause the organization they are attached with to flourish. To be fair, those altruistic questions aren’t a natural outflow for most people. People are, I think, genetically wired to crave self preservation, so worrying about other people accomplishing their self preservation is far from what they want.

If you want to know or test how great a servant leader you are, next time you speak with any person again, ask those first two questions.

“What can I do for you? In what way can I be of help for you to reach what you would like to do?”

How you respond to the answer you get from that person will tell you how active of a servant leader you really are.

I wish I could say that leadership is all about heart. Then I could end this blog with motivational flare. But effective leadership is about knowledgeable effort. So here are three ways you can respond to any answer you hear after you ask the first two questions in this post.

1) Ask more clarifying questions
Questions like: “Why do you want to do this? Why is this so important to you?” This does a couple of things. It allows you to know what values the person in your life holds dear to them and it also builds a compassionate connection with the person. Believe or not just listening to people talk about their dreams gives you more influence in their lives. I know it sounds counter-intuitive but it’s true.

2) Connect them with someone who can help them
Relationship networking is a skill that everyone should learn how to do in an honest and authentic way. The person you point to could be someone already on your team that the person doesn’t speak with but you can make the connection happen. Using who you know to help someone get a better step towards their goals reveals something about your leadership. “Oh yeah What!? It seems like the other person gets value but I don’t!” What you gain from this action is building what others see as character. Your character isn’t what you think about yourself, it’s what others think about you. You are building your reputation when you do this. But you can only do this well if you accomplish number one thoroughly with an honest and curious mind.

3) Teach them the skill
If you notice that what they are saying they want only takes a skill that you already know how to do, offer to teach them what you know. What this says to your teammate is that you are willing to spend the time with them to learn it. We know that teaching isn’t all fun and it can take a while to do because you have to deal with another person’s personality, but I promise you, what you do for them will never be forgotten. Not only do you learn patience on the way but you gain a little more influence in the life of that person and whoever sees their change. However, the assumption here is that you are already a learner, have the skill and are willing to teach.

Practice asking the questions, following up with these three tips, hopefully in the order they’re mentioned, and you’re on your way towards growing in servant leadership capabilities.


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