Servant Leadership Margin


This week’s post comes from Doug Post.
We technical leaders are often our own worst enemy. It’s likely we were promoted to lead because of our ability to get things done. Often we find it tempting to keep ourselves too busy doing, or jumping into, our past job (our “occupational hobby”). The problem is that we don’t prioritize time to be effective servant leaders helping others excel at the work we once did.  In other words, we often do not get to what is now our most important role.

Ask yourself this, have you built enough leadership margin (available time) in your day to serve?  Here are some quick test questions for you:*

  1. Do you put your direct reports first?  This means finding out what others need and making those needs your priority, not your own. Putting the interest of others first involves finding out what matters to them. It is not serving –although it might feel more efficient—to impose your own grid on others! We need to understand their situation and their needs accurately, and this comes from listening to them, not coming in with our assumptions.

  1. Are you eager to meet your peoples’ needs?  When they stop by do you see it as an interruption or an opportunity? Do you respond with eagerness and joy, or with grudging reluctance?

  1. Are you proactive, not reactive, in helping your stakeholders? A servant leadership ethic is being on the lookout to identify needs proactively and then take action to meet those needs. We should look for opportunities to do good for our people.

  1. Are you willing to make things harder on yourself to make them easier on others?

While these questions might be cause for reflection on one’s character, our focus in this article is on leaving enough margin in our day to be available for others. That is, making time to be servant leaders.

I’ve found that building routines into my  calendar is very helpful in prioritizing time for others at work.  For example, I like to get up early and complete my top personal assignments before I go into the office. This helps alleviate the personal deadline pressure that can make me treat people like interruptions. It helps me be more available for others than when I let myself get too busy.

If this approach interests you, an excellent podcast and article on finding leadership margin through routines is available at http://michaelhyatt.com/081-how-to-create-more-margin-in-your-crazy-busy-life-podcast.html. It includes a helpful Excel template to get started.

What are your challenges and wins in finding time to be fully present for others? Please share, I’d love to hear from you on this topic.

*Questions adapted from What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman, p. 89-92.
Continue Leading the Interstates Way!
Doug Post