Connect with us


Servant Leadership – Will You Serve?

Now, the inevitable question to the reader – Will you serve?

Dirk Coetsee



Servant Leadership

“I dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold service was joy.” – Rabindranath Tagore

The Japanese Samurais’ legendary fearlessness and martial prowess echoes in history. Poets carried stories of their skill and bravery across vast oceans. The reader might be surprised at the meaning of the word “Samurai”, it means – “To serve”. Samurais served their Lords with legendary discipline and a collective aspiration to a warrior code that they deemed to be higher than themselves called “Bushido” (The way of the warrior).

The way of the Samurai lives on only within the memory of some. Some of the principles that they lived by will however never die as they form the fabric of some modern legendary businesses and sports teams.

Aspiration towards something higher than ourselves, disciplined action in service of others and always honing our skills are principles sorely needed to meet the challenges of the current business landscape and life in general.

Quite many readers might relate to the narrative of joy experienced from unconditional giving, especially if the gift was helping someone to change her life in a meaningful and lasting way.

Related: Osteostrong: An Exploding Global Movement Of Positive Change

When you have passion for witnessing someone or a business transform into the greatest form of themselves you might have had at least a glimpse of how the principles of Servant Leadership can act as a catalyst for purposeful and sustainable change.

Nelson Mandela

The word servant might conjure up conflicting images in various peoples’ minds, ranging from constructs such as slavery to servant heroes such as Nelson Mandela whom held an aspiring vision in higher regard than themselves.

When we embark upon the journey of servant leadership we are all challenged to renewed thinking by the following proverb , – “If service is below you then leadership is beyond you.”

This article is a medium to offer a legion of alternatives to seeing service as a form slavery. Servant Leadership experienced as a practical paradigm shift has the potential to transform individuals, businesses, and even countries into greatness. Individuals whom choose to wear the mantle of servant leadership have the opportunity to improve their families’ situation and even communities.

When we acknowledge the servant leadership capabilities within us all and dare to tread on the journey towards actualisation of this wonderful gift we soon become conscious that our own minds are potentially the most restrictive slave masters of them all, that is when we allow it to be.

Thoughts entertained long enough tend to become beliefs. Perpetual thinking that forms beliefs such as:

“I am not good enough”

“Only people with born charisma can lead”

“you have to have a title to lead”

“I am an introvert therefore I cannot lead”

“I do not have the skill nor experience to lead”

“Giving and serving is conditional”

“I am a failure”

“My job is to order people what to do therefore I am not a servant but a master…”

is in fact stumbling blocks that we have created ourselves that prevents us from unleashing our authentic and inherent servant leadership potential within.

The first step towards actualisation of our servant leadership potential is to rid ourselves of our self-inflicted and limiting beliefs and actions. Countless servant leaders have proven that “the mind that perceives the limitation is the limitation”.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You cannot feel inferior without your consent”, revealing the truth that we are either good enough to serve and lead or not,  by choice and individual perception.

Related: How To Conquer Your Fear Of Becoming an Entrepreneur By Being Disciplined

Those brave servants among us who are self-motivated individuals that came to the realisation that even without a prestigious title,  they are true leaders in practise, by continuously improving themselves and becoming an example that others want to follow, deserve our admiration.

Several introverts who realised that their introversion is actually a blessing as it can empower them to spend many hours alone, without distractions, honing their craft to perfection without needing to engage others as frequently as most extroverts have the need for.

When you have the sincere mindset of a servant leader skills can be acquired and experience developed over time only the drive and passion to do so is required.

Unconditional giving is true service to, and love for others whether it is skills transference or any other form of gift. Conditional giving is a form of enslavement albeit that it might be veiled by certain rewards in some instances. Mother Theresa is a pristine example of a servant leader whom believed in unconditional love and giving.

“Calm seas never made a good sailor” – Although the author fully recognises that very tough times do not in general provide immediate gratification, even quite the opposite indeed, difficulty is a great teacher in many ways.

The accumulation of challenging experiences endured and overcome becomes powerful tools that the servant leader utilizes to teach others to triumph over similar circumstances.

Making mistakes, losing your job, even closing businesses, albeit very painful, does not make you a failure. It is very natural for our egos’ to not appreciate nor like the blows suffered that failure inflicts so masterfully. The true servant does well, however to guard against those thoughts of being a failure, for if they are entertained long enough they can become powerful and negative beliefs.

A leader taking up the responsibility of being an example to others must view each failure as a learning experience and more important implement the learning in order to move forward.

The difference between a true servant leader and those who give up is a matter of principle, which is that a servant leader never gives up for in giving up it is a disservice not only to the leader but to her team members as well. How can you serve when you have given up? Perseverance to the servant leader is therefore not a choice but a matter of principle.

Related: Paddy Upton: People Centred Coaching

As a general example, when someone in a position of authority simply barks orders and dangles rewards in front of people whilst the treat of punishment is always hanging as a dark cloud over them when they do not perform that person is not serving anyone but herself in the long run.

Servant Leaders’ always aim to create a climate of inspiration by firstly showing others through their actions that the grand vision that they collectively entertain is a possibility. Servant leaders care about people and love what they do. They are always improving themselves and take daily steps towards an inspiring vision that is greater than themselves despite several challenges that will occur.

Dr Edgar Schein

Dr. Edgar Schein

The wise and renowned consultant and expert on Culture, Dr. Edgar Schein believes that culture and leadership are two sides of the same coin and indispensable to one another. It is extremely hard to not only create a high-performance business team or sports team culture but sustain it when there is not a collective yearning amongst the team members to serve a purpose and/ a vision higher than themselves.

The collective and humble efforts of servant leaders whom aspire to something greater than themselves can be a very powerful multiplication factor to performance.

According to the book “Legacy” one of the most successful sports teams of all times, the All Black rugby team has a collective “mantra” that lifts the veil on their culture of excellence to a degree. It goes “Better people make better All Blacks”.

Sounds so simple, yet only a heightened level of self-awareness combined with the humility to admit to your personal challenges and to sincerely ask for mentorship can strengthen your will to become a better person. Better persons make better team members. Sustainable and consistent action that bring servant leadership principles to life can be the compound interest that forms a legendary business or sports team.

When we introspectively consider our personal success as servant leaders the reality is that we are only as successful to the degree that our team members are successful.

Now, the inevitable question to the reader – Will you serve?



How To Make Speedy Decisions As A Leader

Whom of us has not been held prisoner by our own devices of procrastination and fear? Whom has not used delaying tactics purely to play for time only to learn the true practical meaning of Shakespeares words: “I wasted time and now time doth waste me”?

Dirk Coetsee




“Trusting one another, however can never mean trusting with the lip and mistrusting in the heart.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“Self-trust is the first secret of success” – Ralph Waldo Emmerson

Whom of us has not been held prisoner by our own devices of procrastination and fear? Whom has not used delaying tactics purely to play for time only to learn the true practical meaning of Shakespeares words: “I wasted time and now time doth waste me”?

Rapid decision-making

Harvard research has identified amongst other key traits of the most successful CEOs’ of Fortune 500 companies the ability to make decisions quickly and act on them at a rapid speed albeit with the inherent acknowledgement that they might get it wrong forty percent of the time.

Related: 7 Strategies For Development As An Entrepreneur

Why is speedy decision making and a rapid pace of execution so critical? Top leaders know that making quick decisions combined with swift execution creates a much better chance of success as opposed to very slow and bureaucratic verdicts underpinned by little or no action.

When there is a high level of distrust amongst the stakeholders in any entrepreneurial venture literally everything slows down as negative arguments ensue and takes up an enormous amount of precious time. Forced action underpinned by distrust loses quality and speed and can potentially bring a business to its knees.

“The speed of trust” is therefore an extremely valuable principle that all Leaders should live by, that is if they wish to serve a higher purpose than themselves and others. Those Leaders whom have developed a high level of self-trust and have earned the trust of their team members have put themselves in the very advantageous position of being empowered to move towards their vision at a rapid pace through quickfire decisions positively multiplied by confident and competent execution.

“The speed of trust” does not mean that decisions are made without careful consideration and stakeholder input putting the level of quality of execution at imminent risk. It simply means that the decision-making process is quicker than most as mistrust does not cast unnecessary shadows of doubt over the intentions and ambitions of all the stakeholders.

A Leader or Leaders whom has fostered self-trust within themselves will not go through lengthy spells of procrastination that those whom lack self -awareness and suffer from severe self- doubt has to go through.

How do I execute at the speed of trust?

How do I practically bring the principle of the “speed of trust” to fruition within my business? Firstly, ensure that this critical principal is applied throughout all business processes which starts with hiring trustworthy people and by working those out of the business whom cannot be trusted.  Secondly, as  a Leader your actions and words echo throughout every aspect of the business therefore do what you say you are going to do. Admit to your mistakes and fix them.

Thirdly be authentic in your pursuit of the vision of your business. One of the possible ways to achieve that is by being a visible and living example of the business values that you advocate as a leader.

Related: Sales Leadership: The New Frontier

Lastly in order for you to be trusted as a leader you must first show trust in others. Trust others by giving them more responsibility and verbalise your high level of trust in your team members. Passionately speak about this principle and its positive fruits at every opportunity. Make the practical display of this principle by employees or any other stakeholders known to all stakeholders and be lavish with your praise when anyone is willing to earn the trust of other team members.

A very good example of this principle in action was embodied by the Supreme Russian commander, Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov whom never lost a battle and was respected by both his men and his enemies. He earned the trust of his men by being amongst them as often as he could, by sharing their hardships and by offering them the most authentic and quality military training known to man within that period of history.

Suvorov was a humble student of warfare and documented every detail of his learning experiences which included setbacks that he faced. He observed the morale of his men first hand and ensured that he inspired them not only through his inspiring speeches but by being a living example of discipline and bravery.

I will leave the reader with an important question to ponder, one that has echoed throughout history: Do you trust enough to be trusted?

Continue Reading


What Kind Of Leader Are You?

Your effectiveness in scaling your business starts with the kind of leader you are. Here’s how you can build yourself up into a leader others will follow.

Nicholas Haralambous




When you are in start-up mode it’s tough to take a step back and think about the kind of leader you are or want to be. Most of the time you’re fighting to keep your business alive, never mind think about how you lead.

This is especially challenging when it’s faster and more efficient to just step up and do things yourself. It’s easier for you to make the decisions, do the work, check the work, follow up on the work, etc. However, it’s this situation that prevents young companies from scaling to the next level.

Ask More Questions

I work really hard every day to be quieter. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail so dismally that I actually do more damage than good. You see, I like to talk. I like to hear other people talk and I like to bash around ideas until they become something bigger, something better and something that can move from idea into action.

Related: Your Leadership Journey Starts Now… And Go!

Coupled with liking to talk, I also like being right. Who doesn’t? Add onto these two things the fact that I like to read and research and then throw in a teeny bit of ego or pride and it’s a recipe for leadership disaster.

If I am the most well-read, loudest and most opinionated person in a meeting then all that happens is that I end up pitching an idea, getting everyone to agree with this idea and then assigning the work on the idea to become a reality. Basically, I am working with, for and amongst myself. It’s an echo chamber that leads to bad ideas surviving and an unhappy team leaving.

The Collective Is More Intelligent Than the Individual

As a leader and founder, you probably feel like you are the person with the best understanding of the problem you are trying to solve and the best person to solve the problem. This can lead to a dictatorial approach to leadership, team inclusion and problem solving. You have an idea, you tell your team and they do what you tell them.

If this is how you do it then I have to ask you a simple question: Why did you hire smart people? Just so you could tell them what to do? If that’s the case rather hire capable but cheap people, not the best.

Your best people are there to help you scale your business beyond your own thinking and time. There are a set amount of hours in the day. There are only so many emails you can answer in your day.

A good example in my business is customer support. We pride ourselves in our impeccable customer service online and offline. I can’t physically answer every question posed by customers but I can hire incredible colleagues, entrust them with my vision and views on our customers and then trust them to go out and use their good judgement.

Work With The Best

Here’s the kicker to being a good leader: You need to work with the best people.

This is not something I say as a passing statement. I want you to stop reading right now and think about the ten people you interact with at your company every day. Are they the best people you could be working with? If not, why not? How do you find the best people and bring them into your business? Go and do that.

Related: You’re The Boss, So Be The Boss

It’s important to work with the best for two very simple reasons.

Working with the best people pushes you to be better. If you are literally the smartest person in the room in every aspect of your business it means that you are surrounded by subpar players and you are not learning anything. The people around you are meant to educate you and push your business into places you didn’t even know were there.

Second, working with the best people attracts other incredible people. If you have a business full of average team members, can you guess what kind of people they pull towards your business? More average or less than average people. Why? Because average people don’t want to be surrounded by incredible people. If they are, they look worse and not better.

It’s incredibly difficult to be a good leader all of the time. In fact, it’s close to impossible. What you can do is try to be a leader who communicates, learns and grows with your team in an open manner.

Continue Reading


All The Business Wisdom You Need From 4 Famous Entrepreneurs

Combine the knowledge of the greatest entrepreneurs with your own hard earned lessons.

Brian Hamilton



Prev1 of 5

There’s a lot of deification of entrepreneur “personalities.” The truth is that a few entrepreneurs, in my opinion, are probably luckier than good. But, some of the praise and deification is warranted. There have been some fantastic business leaders in this country, and one can learn a ton from studying them. Below, I’ve compiled a list of the four entrepreneurs who have taught me the most over the years.

Prev1 of 5

Continue Reading


FREE E-BOOK: How to Build an Entrepreneurial Mindset

Sign up now for Entrepreneur's Daily Newsletters to Download​​