Reflecting back on my many year in business and as a leader, I realize that some of the strongest leaders I've been exposed to were not in people leadership roles at all. Not managers of people.
They were members of a team yet not responsible for leading it.
Yet lead they did.
Who were they?
They were people that made me better as a leader. Who challenged me to be better, not directly, but by their own natural presence in my team.
I had sense enough to know what a gift they were to me. Sense to step out of their way so that they could perform their natural magic.
So, what's at the heart of this magic?
Simply put, they placed themselves second - servant leaders in every aspect of the term.
This didn't mean that they didn't have their own goals. Didn't have a drive to succeed. Absolutely they did, and most often they were the ones gracing the stage.
But their biggest driver was improving the realities of others. Just that. A sincere belief that in doing their jobs they also had a responsibility for the betterment of others' lives.
These were individuals that moved mountains for customers. Built bridges with team members in times of conflict. That reached out across country and department to offer words of encouragement when times were hard. Asked time and time again, "how can I help you today?"