Throughout my career, I’ve had the benefit of learning from different types of leaders. I have found that the greatest of them, all have one thing in common. They all strive to help others succeed. They enjoy helping people. It gives them sense of fulfillment that goes beyond personal gains.
We often here people in leadership positions speak about their commitment to service. They tout “servant leadership” as their motto, yet their words often ring hollow. Too often we learn that self-interest is their true motivation. These people are leadership impostors.
True leaders are different. What is it about them that makes them enjoy helping others? Are they some sort of special breed, predisposed to become servant leaders? Or is caring about the success of others a skill they developed over time? The answer may be, both.
First, caring for others is a skill that we can develop. By receiving honest feedback from our peers, we can improve our emotional intelligence. Studies have shown that we can develop empathy. Second, we know that each of our brains are wired in a certain way. For example, the brain areas necessary for remorse, do not function for sociopaths. So, there is a genetic predisposition factor.
Great leaders may have a generosity gene, but most also developed their skills. They did this throughout their life. Many have lived through difficult experiences, some going back to their childhood. At some point, someone helped them. It could have been a teacher, coach, manager or friend. These experiences taught them the importance of helping others to succeed.
You may say, all this talk about helping others is great, but isn’t leadership about results? That’s a good question, and here’s my answer. Leadership is about achieving results through others, so why wouldn’t you want others to succeed?
About the Author: Mike MacIsaac is the principal consultant for MacIsaac Consulting. Mike provides leadership as an Agile Delivery Consultant and IT Project/Program Manager. Follow Mike on Twitter@MikeMacIsaac or visit Mike’s blog.