When is being a servant leader not actually serving anyone (The dog pic is relevant)?
When you’re putting your teams’ needs so far ahead of your own that you aren’t taking care of yourself.
The pup is my old dude, Ronan.
Ronan is about 13. He’s definitely slowing down with age.
One of the changes with age: he’s increasingly intolerant of heat.
I’m admittedly hyper-vigilant about Ronan, a behavioral pattern that serves neither him nor me, and which I try to set aside to just enjoy his presence.
Last week, in the interest of doing what might be “better for Ronan,” I didn’t take care of myself.
It was a chilly day in Colorado, and I’d been cold all day. (To be fair, I’m nearly always cold.)
As I went to bed that night, I wanted to turn the heat on. I didn’t, because I was afraid it would get too warm for Ronan.
Instead, I was cold all night.
Needless to say, I had an awful night’s sleep and was not at my best the next day.
Deep down I know that, had I turned the heat on, he would have been fine.
But in my hyper-vigilance, in my desire to be “of service” to him, I over-rotated and didn’t take care of myself.
The concept of servant leadership is that of putting others, your team, first.
It’s noble, and it’s certainly an improvement over traditional management approaches.
Yet it comes with its own risks. Primarily: risks to the leader with not taking care of themselves and burning out.
There is nothing noble in burning yourself out to try to take care of others.
I’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing leaders in my career, those who truly do care for and support their teams.
I won’t call them “servant leaders” because slapping a moniker on them would be reductionist. They’re more than that.
What do these leaders do? They:
- Build relationships and trust with their team members
- Express genuine care and empathy
- Give feedback that blends candor and compassion
- Set and maintain boundaries
- Practice rigorous self-care
Great leaders take care of themselves first and then the team.
They put on their own oxygen mask first.
They turn on the heat when they’re cold.
Because you’re no good to your team if you’re too exhausted to be fully present.
Leaders, here’s my ask of you: do 𝗼𝗻𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗴 to practice self-care today. Then reflect on how much better able you are to support your team.
What are you going to do to practice self-care today?
#leadership #leadershipdevelopment #selfcare ‘
Hey there, I’m Cynthia. I’m a leadership team whisperer, executive coach, and speaker. I guide leadership teams in high-growth companies to achieve rapid growth in a healthy, sustainable way. I coach senior leaders to discover the path to lead with ease. Want to learn about how I can help you grow as a leader? Let’s chat.