The Simple Method to Act Like a Servant Leader

The Simple Method to Act Like a Servant Leader

By John Eades

Imagine for a moment you’re an architect of a new commercial building. It is in a busy, up-and-coming part of town, and there are only two rules for the project: The entrance has to be able to keep horses out, and no one who enters or exits will have to open the door for someone else. What kind of entryway would you design?

Normal hinge doors will not work. Neither will a new-age automatic slinging one. Instead, your only real option would be a revolving door. As legend has it, the revolving door was created by Theophilus Van Kannel in 1888 in response to these exact specifications. What is wonderful about this invention is that the revolving door does not care who pushes it. It does not automatically refuse to move because of someone’s gender, race, age, or skill level. It does not have an expiration date, but rather keeps turning, day in and day out, to help people get from where they are to where they are trying to go. 


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I use this visual of a revolving door because the best leaders behave like one. They invite people in only to exit them on the other side, a better version of the person who walked in.  

Great leaders invite people on a journey and ensure they exit a better version than they started.  

Lean Into Purpose Over Motivation

Leaders that act as a revolving door aren’t afraid to lose a talented person to a better opportunity because preparing people to meet their potential is a part of their purpose. The best leaders are purpose driven and committed to a deeper cause. A great example comes from the sport of marathon running.

Whether you have ever had a leader who is purpose-driven and acts as a revolving door for others or not, being someone who invites and improves others isn’t only meant for certain people. What’s required is someone to choose to take the initiative and responsibility to lead. In my work coaching and developing leaders over the last decade, I have found that most people don’t make this choice because they don’t know what it means to lead.  

In Building the Best, I defined leadership this way. Someone whose actions inspire, empower, and serve in order to elevate others. It doesn’t take a title to lead like this. The reality is you can lead regardless of your title or position. 

You can choose to lead regardless of your title or position.

You can lead at work, in your family, or in the community. I hope you aspire to let people in, then come out on the other side better than they were before.  

The PTS Method

There is a simple yet highly effective method to help remind you to lead this way. The reason it is simple is that simple is remembered, and complex is forgotten. 

Simple is remembered, complex is forgotten. 

This simple strategy is the “PTS Method” and something I have put into practice in my own life, both at work and home. It’s a way to flip your mindset away from “about you” to “elevating others.” Here is how it works.  

When you change environments, say to yourself, “prepare to serve” and then put it into action. An example of changing settings would be moving from one meeting to the next. Before walking in the door or logging into your next Zoom meeting, you would say, “prepare to serve.” Without thinking much after that or trying to do anything drastically different, you will have other people’s interests top of mind.  

Try it tonight at home. Before walking through the door, say to yourself, “prepare to serve.” You will be amazed at how willing you are to help out your spouse or your kids simply because you have changed your thinking. This is essential because our mind is the single most powerful asset we have.

All servant leaders begin with a shift in thinking.

When you put the “PTS” method into practice every day, you’ll quickly become a servant leader, which makes others want to emulate your actions.  

Closing

I would be lying to you if I told you I was always able to remember the “PTS” Method. Leading other people is hard, and I make mistakes each and every day. I disappoint my team and I think about myself too much at times. I fail to serve, empower, and inspire others, and you will, too. This journey will never be a perfect one. There is no ultimate destination but a journey of becoming the very best leader you can be.

*John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best.

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