Leadership and what constitutes a great leader has been discussed for centuries. Most of us have come to think of "leaders" as either charisma-laden celebrities or hard-driving dictator types. During the 1990's a different leadership style slowly started making its way into the discussion; it was called "Servant Leadership". The name is rather unfortunate and, in my opinion, gives the wrong impression. After all, who wants to be a servant? If you look closely, though in all the current leadership and business building discussion, you'll see advice like: " be a go-giver" and "find ways to serve the people you want to support you". This is servant leadership with the label removed.
A typical leader is usually pictured as being "out front", clearly separated from the followers. Servant leaders have a way of "leading from behind". You'll find a servant leader in the midst of the followers. She may be hard to recognize at first because she'll be working right next to everyone else. If you observe the group dynamics, though, you'll spot her right away...she's the one in the center of a circle of employees, encouraging them, listening to feedback and providing tools and support to make their work fulfilling.
Let me just say that I understand this type of leadership is not the sole domain of women. There are amazing male servant leaders (think Ghandi and Jesus) and there are certainly hard-driving dictatorial women out there in leadership positions. We've all experienced both. However, in general, servant leadership tends to come naturally to most women and when that is amplified by being in a position to influence other people, the results can be an organization that changes the world.
To learn more about how successful women lead, check out this article in Inc. Magazine. I have a feeling a lot of you will see yourselves as you read it. When you're done, leave a comment and tell us about your leadership style and how it influences the way you build and operate your business.