If we have the heart to serve other people, we can do it anywhere. Even at work.
Wait, that doesn’t sound right! Work is for, well, work. There are deadlines to meet, and results to drive, and competitors to beat out.
And we have to do whatever we can to get ahead and stay ahead, so there’s no time for anything other than staying totally focused. Everyone else can look out for themselves. Right?
Getting Started Serving Others at Work
But, if perhaps, we do hold onto some desire to begin serving others at work, how would we go about it? Who is there at work that we could serve?
- Acquaintances: With thoughtfulness, and sometimes merely a simple “hello,” we can add value to the lives of other people, a little bit at a time.
- Coworkers: The people we are around all day can be more than mere coworkers; as we learn to serve them more, they can also become our friends.
- Our manager: Part of our job is to make our boss successful, so we should do our best at it. That’s not being political if we are sincere; we do it because it is the right thing to do.
- Clients: Striving to meet our customers’ needs brings more value to them, and we should work to do just that earnestly and honestly.
It seems we can serve almost everyone at work. But how do we go about getting started?
- Connect with them: People crave connection, perhaps even more so at work. Unfortunately, most of us are too busy to take the time. But we can change: we can choose to take a few moments to ask how they are doing, listen closely, and express our support.
- Be of assistance: When someone could use some help, we can choose to deal with the situation quickly and move on. Or, we can jump in and do all we can. In addition, we can build time into our schedule to collaborate with others on projects when we can add value.
- Serve as an example: When everyone else is frantic, we can be the one who stays calm. When others are gossiping and backstabbing, we can build people up. When no one else has time for ethics, we can be a gentle reminder of truth. If we do, over time, people will notice.
We all have a moral obligation to serve others at work. But for those who are leaders, the responsibility is even greater.
Learning to Be a Servant Leader
How do we know if we are a leader? We turn around, and we see that people are following.
How do we know if we are a servant leader? If they are following willingly, even enthusiastically. And if they are gratefully serving other people as well.
There are things we can do to see how we are doing as a servant leader:
- Assess our objectives: Is it more important for us to succeed in our own career, or for the people we lead to reach their fullest potential in order to serve the organization well?
- Adapt our approach: Are we normally thinking primarily of ourselves, or building others up and helping them perform at their best? Just being authentic at work is a good start.
- Prioritize our time: In a normal week, do we spend more time networking and “managing upward” or working with the team to clarify roles, improve processes, and clear obstacles?
Effective leaders are servant leaders. They place the needs of others ahead of their own personal interests. They teach, mentor, and spend time with other people to help them grow.
And whether we think of ourselves as leaders or not, we can make the choice to focus more on serving others at work. And we can start tomorrow.
Question: What is a skill or personality trait you could use serving others at work?
Action: Think of the name of one person you could serve at work.