Over the years, I’ve worked with many great leaders. One common quality they shared: They practiced the servant-leadership style. I recently read about servant leadership, and it’s fascinating. Robert K. Greenleaf coined the phrase in “The Servant Leader,” an essay published in 1970.
How Do You ID a Servant Leader?
Want to gauge if someone is a servant leader? Ask him or her one simple question: Are you helping those around you grow? “A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong,” says Greenleaf’s essay.
This reminded me of our purpose at CampusLogic: We help schools change lives. Reading up on servant leadership made me think of the ways our approach at CampusLogic truly aligns to helping our customers, and the financial aid community at-large, grow.
Help: What a Servant Leader Does
Notice the word “help” is in both the question you can use to gauge a servant leader, and our purpose? But asking for help isn’t always easy. I have a hard time asking people for help. Sound familiar? If we don’t ask for help, we miss out on an opportunity to help others grow, to empower them, share knowledge, problem solve, and step up—not to mention not asking for help causes us to stress ourselves out!
People have an incredible way of rising to the occasion—at work, school, home, in society.
The definition of help is an #awesome one: Make it easier for someone to do something by offering one’s services or resources. So why has the word help become almost a taboo four-letter word to so many? Want to try to avoid doing everything by yourself? Here are some tips:
Follow the 5-Minute Rule
If you get stuck on something and spend five minutes trying to figure it out, phone a friend—us! Our customers have heard me say this before. The Customer Success team is happy to be your phone-a-friend. Even if what you’re struggle with isn’t something directly related to our CampusLogic products, we have access to a network of more than 400 colleges and universities that may be able to provide insights.
I try to use this five-minute rule of thumb for any problem I try to solve. I’m surrounded by smart people and I know a lot of people who are doing the same work, who may have gone through the same thing. Why not just ask for their opinion? Remember, reinventing the wheel takes a lot of time.
Feedback is my second favorite F-word—right behind food, of course! If we want help, we must be open to receiving and giving feedback. How else can we possibly grow? You can’t fix what you don’t know is broken.
Feedback can be a slippery slope and there needs to be a level of trust for it to be effective. It’s often easier to give critical feedback (the squeaky wheel gets the grease, right?). But while it’s harder to seek out opportunity to give positive feedback. And both are really important.
At CampusLogic we encourage constant feedback from our customers because it helps us grow. We also work diligently to earn the trust of our customers, working on building a relationship in which we can provide feedback and ideas on how we can help them grow, as well.
Help People Rise to the Occasion
People have an incredible way of rising to the occasion—at work, school, home, in society. The level they rise to is reflective of both their willingness to grow and their leader. Having the opportunity to work with so many awesome leaders at CampusLogic and at institutions across the country is truly empowering.
Servant leaders have an amazing ability to lead by example, and to help those around them rise to the occasion. Serving isn’t about doing everything for those you serve—whether it is your students, team, or co-workers—servant leadership is about thinking about others’ needs, making them a priority, and most importantly helping them grow and rise up.
What Will You Do Today?
The impact we have on the people around us is our legacy in life. Seems best to end this blog with a quote from one of the greatest servant leaders of our time. “Life’s most important persistent and urgent question is, ‘what are you doing today for others?’”—Martin Luther King, Jr.