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Striving to Serve with Mindfulness and Empathy

Monday, 28 March 2016 18:22 Written by 

The times of the old pyramid company structure are getting further and further away year after year and are being replaced with the idea of servant leadership. Why might this be? It’s much more effective to lead people who care about you and will serve beside you than to lead people with selfish, power-hungry, or financially greedy intentions. Those who work for you, and with you, can sense whether you’re being sincere in your leadership style or not, and they will work for you according to what their perception tells them, especially if they know they have talent and valuable skills.

Whether you’re new at being a leader or have been one for years, you’ve probably picked up on this vibe at least a little bit and know your own preferences. Think about it... would you rather work for that boss who constantly yells and tries to force you into doing things their way by demanding (not earning) respect and obedience, or would you rather work for that boss who takes a collaborative and constructive approach?

Most people prefer the latter, which is understandable. So how can you become more empathetic, collaborative, and mindful in your leadership style? You may be wondering if you have to change your personality around, but the truth is that no, you absolutely don’t. You can be yourself while still leading effectively and becoming the boss everyone loves to work for.

Five Tips for Becoming a Servant Leader

Servant leadership is a wonderful concept because it strives to promote harmony, collaboration, and mutual respect as opposed to a race for power or money through underhanded, unethical means. The following five tips are some of the things you can do when working with others to further enhance your mindful leadership skills.

1.      Listen to what your team has to say. Whether it’s about you, a project, another employee, or something different entirely, it helps to take the time to have a one-on-one conversation with each member of your team. You’ll learn a lot if people open up to you, and they will if you listen and don’t get offended or jump to conclusions.

2.      Be a positive force. As a leader, it is your responsibility to create a productive and effective environment, and people are generally most productive and effective when they’re happy. Sure, pressure to complete something might still be there, but at least those working for you will be more content putting in additional hours rather than grumbling about it and being less able to function because they’re miserable.

3.      Express empathy and caring. If you let your ego or pride do the talking, you won’t get very far with those you lead. In fact, it may drive them further away from you and what you’re ultimately trying to accomplish. Empathizing and showing kindness can disarm anger and encourage trust, which is a much more effective solution than fighting fire with fire.

4.      Focus on contributing, not receiving. When you approach your team with this mindset, you’ll be amazed at the collaboration and constructive work that takes place to get you closer to your ultimate goals. Inspiring others is much more powerful than self-involvement.

5.      Be open-minded. Though you’re the boss, this doesn’t mean you’re the be-all-end-all of the project or company. Think of all the ways you can learn from those who work with you, as employees or otherwise, and always approach opposing opinions with genuine interest to maximize what you learn and therefore gain from the experience.


As a mindful leader, your focus is probably already on those whom you serve or wish to serve. However, it never hurts to revisit some of the skills and attitudes that make great leaders so great, servant leader habits being one of those things. Imagine all of the people you can help, whose lives you can improve, by being of service to them. That is the key to mindful leadership success.

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