Servant Leaders Give the Gift of Time

Would you like more time? Of course, you would.

Peter Drucker wrote in The Effective Executive, “Of the other major resources, money is actually quite plentiful. People one can hire, though one can rarely hire enough good people. But one cannot rent, hire, buy, or otherwise obtain more time.” Drucker wrote that in 1967, and the pressure on our time has only gotten worse since then. Everyone is being asked to do more with less, creating increasing pressure on available time, which makes principled prioritization a critical task for the Servant Leader.

Here are the ten characteristics of servant leaders, and how they can be applied to make the most of time, for you and your employees:

  1. Servant leaders start by listening – actively listening with the goal of understanding. This saves time because people feel they have been heard and understood. There is no need for repeating, for re-explaining, for multiple conversations. You get the gift of time, and your employees get the gift of respect and understanding.
  2. When people know they are being accepted and appreciated for their own special and unique gifts, they give more generously of those gifts. Whether that translates into innovation and change, or simply increased productivity, your empathy will generate time.
  3. Robert Greenleaf, the founder of Servant Leadership, wrote: “There is something subtle communicated to one who is being served and led if implicit in the compact between servant-leader and led is the understanding that the search for wholeness is something they share.” Healing, or “making whole,” is itself a gift and leads to greater efficiency and focus.
  4. General awareness, and especially self-awareness, help you accurately and efficiently view and solve the problems you face. Additionally, awareness creates perspective, so more holistic solutions can be developed. Solve problems once, and in a way that they stay solved and even build a foundation for growth.
  5. It may take more time to persuade than to order, but the benefit of showing respect, and of including others in the decision outweighs the time investment. Additionally, once convinced, employees may achieve their goal faster than if they had been ordered to do something.
  6. By envisioning and communicating the future, servant leaders get everyone “singing the same tune.” This unity of purpose and direction creates its own efficiencies and time-savings.
  7. Servant leaders understand the lessons of the past and apply them to the present realities to create efficiency and to prepare for likely consequences. This discipline serves to prevent wasted time – especially in “re-inventing the wheel.”
  8. According to Merriam-Webster, stewardship is “the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.” The servant leader nurtures, protects, and maximizes all the resources available. By honoring their resources, including time, servant leaders make the most of them.
  9. Developing people. Helping all individuals grow and develop into their best selves is a fundamental role of servant leadership. In doing this, the servant leader creates better, more productive workers as well as the next generation of servant leaders. Again, while this may require a time investment, the payoff will be more time.
  10. Building community for your co-workers will pay off in their commitment to achieving your business purpose. Yes, it will take time, but the payoff will come in better, more efficient communications, shared understanding, and building partnerships throughout your organization.

We have all worked for leaders who were never too busy to stop and give encouragement, a kind word, or to ask an insightful question. We have worked for leaders who were never too busy to stop what they were doing to solve a problem. The highest praise for a leader might be “they were never too busy for me.” Generosity is one of the key values of a servant leader. So, as a servant leader, give generously the gift of time. It will be worth it.

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