“Seek a position that’s appealing to you," said my mentor, "Keep in mind the qualities we've discussed of companies and leaders. When you acquire the position, begin immediately, and prepare to leave the organization.”
“What?" I said, "That’s incredible!”
“Listen carefully, Chris. Workers generally fall in two categories: those who want a secure job, and those who want to be their own boss. If you want to be the latter, then be a leader. There are three more qualities of mature servant leadership I would like to discuss. They are courage, humility, and curiosity.”
I inquired with impatience, “How do I put these into practice?”
“Learn to work so well that one day you’ll be able to volunteer and train your replacement!”
Feeling dazed once again I smiled to acknowledge I was listening.
“The best way to prove that you’re ready for a promotion is to demonstrate mastery of your current duties. To demonstrate mastery teach another. By offering to teach your job to another, you're declaring that you’ve grown beyond its demands. Training your replacement is a risk that requires courage, because certain employers might misunderstand your proposal as a resignation. However, it’s a necessary risk. To advance you must develop knowledge of your employer and take this calculated risk. This requires courage, not foolish speculation. It also requires humility to take responsibility for mistakes and shortcomings. When something goes wrong, never blame others, especially subordinates. Blaming others implies a person is beyond error and above reproach. Holding such an image of oneself is foolish and leads to destructive relationships, and failed enterprises. Become familiar with all aspects of any project you oversee, whether large or small. Hold yourself accountable for every facet of the operation. Praise others when things go right; blame yourself when they don’t. Practice at every phases of your career. It helps you learn to be a mature, servant leader. Courage and humility interconnect with curiosity. To be knowledgeable enough to lead others in any task, you must understand their duties.”
I thought, “My friend, Joe, isn't a leader, because he disdains familiarity with other workers in the mill, and knows nothing of their work experience. He doesn’t realize the work he does depends on the day-to-day work of others. He’d rather stay enclosed in his own world, within the cell of his own job, minding his own business.” At that moment, I recognized Joe’s job for what it was. It was difficult for me to acknowledge my friend was not the leader I thought he once was.
“Curiosity,” my mentor’s voice startled me, “leads you to observe others, ask questions, and help them when you’re not occupied. Doing so expands your intelligence, abilities, and you can become a mature, servant leader.”
Thrilled by this idea, I replied, “Truly, I’ve never thought of myself capable of anything as great as you describe.”
Chris Bryant is an American financial advisor.