Servant leaders can enhance their relationships by choosing to model the behaviors of love outlined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. The fifth behavior mentioned is selflessness

Selflessness is meeting the needs of others. Servant leaders put their people and their organizations before themselves. They don’t view employees as a means to an end; rather employees’ happiness and satisfaction is the end.

Colleen Barrett, a retired President of Southwest Airlines, always lived by the following when it came to SWA employees:  “Insure that no grief goes unattended; that no joy goes unshared; that each achievement is celebrated; and that those requiring help receive it.”

I firmly believe that one of the many reasons that SWA has been so successful is this focus by Colleen during her tenure as President. She was truly selfless, and cared at the core for each of the SWA employees and made sure that their needs were taken care of whatever the circumstances. When we see the SWA commercials and the employees look like they are having such a good time that is not acting. It is due to their leadership deeply caring for employees above themselves, so that in turn employees can effectively care for their customers.

A great quote from John Maxwell, “People don’t care how much their leaders know, until they know how much they care”, also sums up the importance of selflessness. Until people really feel that their leaders care about them personally, they are not going to buy into the purpose and vision of the organization, and will therefore not be as engaged as they need to be, or you would like them to be. 

An individual can clearly feel when their leader truly cares about them and their well-being. The leader keeps safety as a top priority. They seek to help develop and grow the individual’s skills to insure that they have the opportunity to achieve what they were born to achieve. They are there when help or assistance is needed. And they are always there to cheer people on as they go through their careers and life.

Focusing on the positive impact that you can have on others as opposed to yourself, will drive significant fulfillment in a leader’s life, and oh by the way, will be really good for business results as well!

Mark Deterding