One’s leadership style can be defined by how a leader prioritizes the organization and its mission (IT), the people he/she leads (YOU), and the leader himself/herself (ME).

Self-serving Leaders Self-serving leaders prioritize ME-IT-YOU. All they do is for their benefit. They will forsake the organization or sacrifice the needs of those they lead to satisfy their own interests and ambitions.

Loyal Self-serving Leaders Self-serving leaders who are loyal to the organization and its mission prioritize IT-ME-YOU. They believe the mission is most important and expect those they lead to sacrifice to ensure its success. You will hear them sometimes use the phrase “we have a business to run” to justify putting the needs of the organization over the needs of the people. The Loyal Self-serving Leader will also sacrifice for the good of the organization, when necessary, but need not sacrifice as much as those below him or her.

Servant Leaders Most would agree that Servant Leaders put themselves last. But is servant leadership IT-YOU-ME or YOU-IT-ME?

Good leaders prioritize IT-YOU-ME. They serve the “greater good” first and the people who create the “greater good” second. Their self-interest is their lowest priority.

Some believe that even Servant Leaders must to put the needs of the business over the needs of the people. I do not. In my opinion, Servant Leaders prioritize YOU-IT-ME. They put the needs of the people they lead over the organization and its mission. The servant leader will do what is good for the person even if it may not be good for the organization. Then, those the leader leads and serves commit themselves to the organization and its mission because of the leader’s loyalty to them. That is how servant leaders get outstanding results from the people they lead!

Ron Mittelstaedt, CEO of Waste Connections, once said something along these lines. He said, “Sometimes a business decision comes in conflict with what’s best for an employee. And what we tell our leaders is ‘You do what’s best for the employee and then we’ll worry about how it affects the company’.” That is the YOU-IT-ME approach and is a hallmark of true Servant Leadership.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *