Ps and Qs Education

Be a self-effacing leader

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It is not easy putting the interests of others ahead of one’s own; it takes courage, confidence, calm, and vision

I started this year discussing the difference between success and significance. When success is guided by a sense of purpose, it becomes significance. Now, as the year comes to a close, let us discuss a concept that takes us all towards significance — servant leadership.

Many of you may have heard of this concept as it is not new. I am not keen on explaining its origins to you as it is just a Google click away. Instead, let me tell you why being a servant leader is a meaningful step towards fulfilment and healthy self-development. This apparently paradoxical term, ‘servant leadership’, is anchored in principles of kindness and compassion — qualities that are becoming rarer by the day in today’s world. The servant leader is primarily driven by the welfare and well-being of the people she/he leads. Her/his success is measured by the success of her/his associates. And she/he puts their interests ahead of her/his own.

Motivation matters

The will to serve others motivates such a leader, effacing her/his own ego and hunger for power and authority. A servant leader is, therefore, humble, allowing for the growth of those working with her/him. I would like to think of her/him as this huge tree that moderates and moves its branches around to let the saplings below grow and tower over it; to allow the sun and rain to reach them adequately.

It is not easy to be self-effacing and put the interests of others ahead of one’s own. It takes courage, confidence, calm and vision to do that. It is quite human to feel threatened, but the good news is we can all aspire to overcome that feeling. It is a quality I aspire to have, and I have started my journey towards it. I hope, in a few years, I would have reached this goal.

It is said that employees feel more motivated to work productively and contribute meaningfully when they have a servant leader beside them. And an organisation that promotes such a leadership style is a more empathetic and successful one too. Even from a business perspective, any company that promotes a compassionate environment will have happier, healthier and more productive employees.

Consistent and constant communication, demonstrating interest in the passions of the teams, showing them means to succeed, creating ways for them to receive appreciation, and showing them ways to take care of themselves — are some possible examples of how we can become servant leaders in our day-to-day life. Such an approach can also guide us in our personal environments where we can aspire to serve our family and friends.

I had heard of this concept before, but learnt more about it in the organisation I work in. And I am happy to say that many of my colleagues are taking to it, like bees to honey. After all, when there is merit in an idea, people will take to it, won’t they?

The writer is a literary journalist. She also heads Corporate Communications at UST Global. Twitter: @anupamaraju

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 8:44:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/be-a-self-effacing-leader/article30305415.ece

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