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Servant Leadership – Will You Serve?

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

Dirk Coetsee

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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?

Dirk Coetsee is the president of Curator South-East Asia a consulting firm that has a proud twenty year history in scaling businesses through franchising or other vehicles. Curator helps entrepreneurs to ‘Survive and thrive’ by scaling their businesses through franchising or securing funding and sales channels for them. You can contact Dirk at: dirk@curatorgroup.co.za or browse through @ curators’ website: www.curatorgroup.co.za.

Leading

Crisis Management In A Digital Age

If you’re at a loss for how to go about jumping into the fray of social media commenting and opinions, here are a few tips to protect you, your business, and your brand’s reputation.

Darren Mansour

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In business, you can’t ignore what’s being said about you online. Most importantly, you need to respond appropriately. The internet is a free-for-all of consumer commentary, inevitably, some of it can be damaging.

Crisis management comes with the Online reputation management (ORM) territory of changing negative sentiment around your brand into a positive.

It can be difficult to know how to respond, keep things positive, or change the sentiment around your brand. If you’re at a loss for how to go about jumping into the fray of social media commenting and opinions, here are a few tips to protect you, your  business, and your brand’s reputation.

1. Avoid a Knee Jerk Reaction

Reading what could be perceived as negative commentary on your brand, business, products, services, or employees, can cause you to jump straight into responding by justifying yourself or trying to show that the consumer is off the mark and misinformed. These are normal reactions, but it isn’t necessarily going to help your brand or positively push your online presence.

Rule number one is not to place blame, especially on the consumer or commenter, even if the comment is negative, false, or misleading. Rule number two is never to take it personally and do not to respond emotionally or in an accository fashion.

Pay attention, think it through, then respond in a calm, professional and appropriate way. Set a clear ORM response policy around commenting and responding to comments.

Related: Crisis Management: Fail To Prepare, Prepare To Fail

2. Consider Comments as Free Research

Think of the comments you receive on social media, both good and bad, as consumer research. Keep a record of your comments and responses, tips, questions, suggestions, and key problems. You’ll find that your customer, fan, and follower will give you valuable information that you would not otherwise have.

The idea is to change negative sentiment around your brand into positive while at the same time leveraging off the information and data gained through this process. This perspective will assist you to see the value in this engagement with your brand. Online Reputation Management should be a daily task. This is all part of maintaining your online reputation and digital media presence.

3. Remember That Everyone’s Reading Your Responses

The most important reason to respond to both positive and negative comments is because everyone else on that thread is reading the banter. The amount of people reading the comments usually outweighs those actively participating in the conversation by commenting. They are all paying close attention to how the business and brand responds.

Related: How To ‘Crisis-Proof’ your Company

Appropriately responding to less negative comments presents the opportunity to demonstrate how connected the brand is with their consumer, it is the perfect platform to solve potential problems and defuse particular situations. When a business listens and responds to feedback online, in an appropriate manner, a sense of trust is created. It shows that the brand is prepared to go above and beyond. This can stretch far beyond the commenter.

4. Hire Talent To Do Your Responding

In order to fully tap into the benefits of social media you should consider getting a specialist on board to manage your social content along with the responses that this content creates. It is important to be on the same page as your marketing team. If you are looking for an agency with the experience, guts, and glory to carry your brand, then get in touch with So Interactive for your digital marketing needs.

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How Entrepreneurs Can Make Good Decisions Quickly

Below are some tips on how you can do just that.

Amy Galbraith

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As an entrepreneur, you have to face difficult decisions on a near-daily basis. These can range from deciding on what marketing strategy suits your business best or choosing what new talent to hire for your team. Making good decisions quickly can be tricky, even more so if you are pressed for time. However, there are methods you can use to do this.

Decision-making is an intrinsic part of being an entrepreneur, and once you know the answer to “What is decision-making?” you will be better able to make good decisions, quickly. Below are some tips on how you can do just that.

Acknowledge what you are trying to accomplish

Making decisions can be difficult if you do not know what, exactly, you are trying to accomplish. Before you reach a decision, you will need to carefully look at what you are trying to accomplish and optimise. Once you have done this, you will be able to make the right, and quickest, decision.

An example of this is changing a marketing strategy. Are you trying to reach a new audience? Are you trying to release a new product to the public, or are you trying to change your brand’s image? Once you have acknowledged what you are trying to accomplish, you can decide on what options best suit the situation. This process might take time at first, but, once you have done it a few times, it will become second nature.

Related: 6 Common Decision-Making Blunders That Could Kill Your Business

Use available data

Having evidence or data to help with a decision can be highly useful for any entrepreneur. And in today’s online world, you will be able to find enough of both to help you make any decision, whether it is big or small.

Using data and evidence, you will be able to see how your company is currently performing and make a business decision based on this data. The key to making good decisions in the shortest amount of time possible is having the right evidence and information available. You will need to be sure that you understand the data and evidence in order to use it as part of your decision making.

Give yourself a deadline

It is important to set deadlines for decisions. This way, you will be able to make them quickly, effectively and before any problems become bigger than they need to be. For example, set a deadline for deciding on a new employee a week from their interview date. This gives you time to examine their strengths and weaknesses in depth before deciding.

Having a deadline creates a sense of urgency, meaning that you will spend less time procrastinating and more time on the actual decision-making. It will keep things moving forward and you will avoid “paralysis by analysis”, a common occurrence in entrepreneurs and business owners. Deadlines help to keep the goal in sight, allowing you to make a decision quickly and easily without overthinking it.

Get an outside opinion

Even the Khaleesi in Game of Thrones has an advisor to help her make decisions. And if she has one, it makes sense that a business owner or entrepreneur should too. It is a good idea to get an outside opinion, especially if you have been thinking about a decision for a long time.

An objective voice can help you to reach a final decision, as they can help you consider points that you might not have thought of. You could ask your friends or your colleagues for help, but be sure that they do not have any attachment to the decision. This can make it difficult for them to give objective advice. If you have a mentor, this is the best person to ask for advice.

Related: 5 Bad Decision-Making Habits That Can Destroy Your Business

Reframe the problem

Step back from the problem or decision you are facing and look at it from another angle. Often, reframing a problem or situation can help you to reach a speedy conclusion, especially in terms of business.

Try to see the issue from as many perspectives as possible, as this will help you to ensure that you are not emphasising one aspect and neglecting another. This is all a part of the answer to “what is decision making?” as seeing a problem from another perspective can help you to see the bigger picture. You should try to think of at least three different ways to see the problem and work from there.

Keep calm

One of the most important ways to make good decisions quickly is to keep calm. By keeping your emotions in check, you will better be able to make a decision that is smart and objective. The steps in decision-making include knowing what you want to accomplish, using the data available to you, giving yourself a deadline and asking for an outside opinion. Once you have taken all of these steps, you will be able to make efficient and effective business decisions.

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Simple Ways To Make Your Small Business More Professional

If you are looking to boost your business success and look more professional to clients, read on for some top tips on how to do so.

Amy Galbraith

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Owning and operating a small business can be tough, time-consuming and at times, frustrating. There is always a business out there that is more efficient, funky or more professional than you. But you can get an edge on the competition if you strive to be better.

One way to bring in more professionalism is to send your staff on office administration courses so that they are able to perform administrative tasks to improve efficiency, or you could hire a professional administrative assistant to do the job. If you are looking to boost your business success and look more professional to clients, read on for some top tips on how to do so.

Create a modern website

In today’s modern, digital age, the very first thing that people see when looking for your business is your website. And, having an unprofessional, outdated and badly designed one will send potential clients running for the hills before they even contact you to find out about your products or services.

It is not enough to have a Facebook Business Page, you will need to have a professional, modern website that tells clients exactly who you are, what you do and (most importantly) what you can do for them. You will also need to include your contact details, office address and business hours, so that your clients can reach you when they need you. A modern website will entice customers to find out more about your company, too.

Related: Government Funding And Grants For Small Businesses

Always use a business email

You might think that creating another email address is tedious, but think about how embarrassing it would be to email clients from your current one that you might have created in high school (BarbiePrincess89@hotmail.com is hardly going to impress anyone).

If you already have a business website, then setting up a business email is quick, simple and more often than not, free. You can use Google My Business or other similar tools to create a business email that reads YourName@yourbusiness.com, which is much more professional and will send the right message to your clients. A business email also makes it easier for you to answer work emails quickly and efficiently, as you will not be scrolling through your personal inbox, trying to find them.

Have someone to answer your phones

If you have employees for your small business, you should look into sending someone on office administration courses so that they are able to answer your office phone quickly, effectively and in a professional manner.

Having a receptionist or office administrator to answer your phones immediately makes your small business seem more professional. And it will allow you to focus on more important tasks, rather than having to answer a ringing phone all day. Your office administrator will be able to forward calls to you, take messages and answer any queries that clients may have. This will give clients a positive experience when dealing with your business too.

Avoid formal titles on your business cards

If you are a “one-man-band”, so to speak, it can be tempting to call yourself the CEO of your business, or a similarly formal title. After all, you are the one putting in all the work, right? However, clients will not be impressed by this title and it could backfire rather than work in your favour.

More often than not, calling yourself the CEO of a one-person company will make you look unprofessional and appear to be a “small-time” operation, especially as the CEO is the one chasing up clients and running around doing all the grunt work. It is best to simply leave it at your name and the name of your business. You do not need a title to prove that you are good at your job, rather let your products and/or services speak for you.

Related: How South African Small Business Owners Can Overcome Economic Uncertainty

Lease a professional office space

If you are just starting out or your small business has not yet taken off, you may not have a professional office address or space. While it can help to cut costs to operate out of your home, it will not help to raise your level of professionalism in the eyes of your clients.

You could look into leasing a workspace in a coworking space such as No 80 Hout Street in Cape Town or Worq in Pietermaritzburg. Having a professional space to meet with clients and to conduct your business will increase your success and will help you to stand out against the competition. Coworking spaces are highly popular among young entrepreneurs and you might even meet like-minded people who you can collaborate with on projects for clients.

Professionalism is in the eye of the beholder

Going on office administration courses, having a modern website created for you, creating a business email and hiring someone to answer your phones are all highly effective ways to make your small business more professional. Clients will appreciate the effort that you have put into crafting a professional presence, no matter if you have one employee or ten.

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