Leadership – Status or Service?

Is leadership about status or service? In the UK, much of the news of late has been filled with the choosing of a new leader for the Conservative Party who will therefore become the next Prime Minister. These contests throw up lots of questions around good leadership. I would love to know what is it that is motivating these candidates to push for the top job?

I believe a person’s motivation to lead comes down to a choice between two things, it is either for status or for service. The heart motivation of your leadership determines the actions you take and how you interact with those you lead. Honestly, I don’t know what these candidates’ motivation is for leading, but it serves as a point to think about how you behave as a leader.

“Your rewards in life will be in direct proportion to the value of your service to others.” Brian Tracy

One of the many counter-intuitive things you discover about leadership is that the route to greatness is in serving others. When they win you win. Great leaders empower others and create environments in which they can bring their best contribution. Your character as a leader matters and your motivation is a foundational part.

What kind of leader do you want to be?

Patrick Lencioni in his book The Motive, talks about the reward-centred leader and the responsibility-centred leader. The difference between the two is stark. The reward focused leader is not going to take on things they don’t enjoy doing, anything that is uncomfortable for them. For them the reward for hard work is this leadership position, it is the end in itself. Greatness as a leader comes through the influence you have on others. A service-oriented leader will be thinking more about “we” than “me.”

Characteristics of Servant Leaders

  • Servant leaders are resilient – when things get tough, they dig in and roll their sleeves up. If it’s just about the status or reward the temptation can be to quit.
  • Consistency – as leaders your behaviour should be consistent, so those you lead know where they stand. Inconsistency of approach creates fear and insecurity in the team.
  • Gives permission to try new things – adopting a let’s try this approach and learn from what happens enables and empowers creativity.
  • Prepared to make the hard decisions. You are not closed to the opinions of others but after all the information is in can make the decisions that need to be made.
  • Takes responsibility for the failures and gives credit to all for the wins.
  • Creates an environment particularly in team meetings where all can be heard, and all can contribute.

In short if your motivation is postured for service and responsibility, then this will work its way out in your behaviour and actions. The leader who has this kind of motivation will look to be:

  • Available to the team when needed.
  • A person looking to resource and develop team members
  • More adept at listening
  • Approachable
  • Trustworthy
  • Walks and models integrity

We won’t find out the result of the leadership contest for leader of the Conservative Party until early September. My hope is they are motivated by service and will take responsibility for how they model the behaviour they want to see. Only then will they have a chance of winning back the trust of those they lead.

“You’ve got to love your people more than your position.” John C. Maxwell

To see how you can serve effectively as a leader you can book your free 30-minute discovery call with me here.

Stay safe.

Mark Billage

Mark Billage

Mark’s passion is to help realise individuals’ potential, be they leaders or team members, through empowering organisational culture. He has spent 7 years leading an organisation based in the non profit sector. In that time, he focused on creating a culture that enabled and empowered individuals, with the aim of seeing a high performing team better able to achieve the organisation’s mission.

Our Vision

To train and equip leaders to transform culture, build successful teams and organisations where everyone is seen, heard and valued for their unique contribution.

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