One of the key attributes of a servant leader is empathy. You can’t have empathy without having open eyes to what people are dealing with and enduring in their jobs and life. Open eyes will move a leader to action!
As in most aspects of servant leadership, you must be intentional about what you do to insure that you are present and available to the people you are serving. I recognize this may not be easy, but it is necessary.
It is much easier for a leader to keep their blinders on and just see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear. But to exhibit true empathy and effectively serve your people it is imperative that you go out and “live” among the people within your sphere of influence.
Abe Lincoln didn’t just rely on what his cabinet and lieutenants told him. He made it a point to actively listen to all the people he was serving. He even went out onto the battlefield in the Civil War, putting himself in harm’s way to fully understand what his troops were dealing with on the front lines. He could then make decisions on their behalf having the full understanding of their situation.
When I led printing companies over the years, I made it a point everyday to be out on the manufacturing floor talking to as many people as possible to fully understand how things were going in their personal and professional lives. I would also periodically spend as many hours as possible actually walking in their shoes and doing their specific jobs. This is the only way I knew how to get a true grasp of the pulse of an organization through the eyes of the people who made it happen every day. I could then empathize with them, know and understand what they were dealing with, and truly serve their needs.
Opening one’s eyes to true understanding of people within your sphere of influence will lead to opportunities for serving and healing when a servant leader applies themselves to the development and care of others. When people know you have their best interests in mind they will give their very best in the performance of their jobs, and be fully engaged in the advancement of the purpose of the organization.
This is an area that I can always improve upon, as it is always easier to shield yourself from things that you would just as soon not know. I continue to challenge myself to listen more and have better vision to areas where I can empathize, add value and serve.
In what areas can you enhance your vision and presence in order to better serve those people that need your help and leadership?
“People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” – John Maxwell