Throughout my life, I’ve learned so much about servant leadership. A lot of that education came just by being in proximity with the incredible Mark Missigman. Mark had mentored and coached me throughout my career. He is not only my trusted advisor but my dear friend.
A lot of Mark’s leadership experience came from his 20 years in the Navy. He is a decorated serviceman and yet he is incredibly humble.
As a result, Mark has amazing insights into what it really means to be a leader. He recently shared many of them with me.
One of the first things Mark communicated was that leadership is about taking care of the person next to you. It’s about using your talents to enrich the lives of the people around you. When you’re a leader, you have to ask yourself, “What can I do today and who needs to be served today?”
Additionally, leadership isn’t about having a position. It’s about participation. As a leader, you need to focus on getting the job done by working together. Don’t identify anyone as those who work for you but as those who work with you. The leader has to serve everyone in their organization from the top to the bottom.
He also shared the importance of agreement.
His definition of leadership is when you influence other people around you to change what they think, what they do, or what they perceive through agreement. That last word is the key. Anybody with a paddle or a stick can change people. They can change their minds and what they’re doing through the use of force.
However, true leaders will get people to agree with them. This will only happen when you make a connection with people. Leaders have to build relationships and then people will agree to go along with them.
Agreement is the only way to get true respect as a leader; otherwise, you will be leading only by fear.
If you’re wondering how you can be a leader, you may want to start with figuring out who to lead. Many people stumble around this area.
Mark advises that the first question to ask yourself when you’re in this situation is, “What am I good at?” When you answer this, you’ll identify your strengths and then find out who to lead. Some good ways to figure out what you’re good at are by taking the DISC personality test and asking yourself what you do that doesn’t require much effort.
Once you identify your strengths, people will begin to show up in your life who will want your help in those areas.
Often, you can lead the people who are already right next to you. You have been given the opportunity to develop a relationship with them and lead them just by their proximity.
Stop seeing them just as co-workers, children, or community members and start seeing them as people who you can work with to make the world a better place.
If you want to learn more about leadership and leading by serving, check out Episode 055: How to Become a Better Leader with Mark Missigman.