As you may already know, I produce a weekly podcast with a long time colleague of mine, designed to support mentoring of senior executives. Over the past 8 months we have been including special guests from outside Australia (where we are based) to discuss a broad range of topics that we and our listeners have found intriguing.
Two recent guests spoke about “Servant Leadership”. This was not a management term I had previously heard used so was particularly interested to hear two separate exponents talk though their experience with this style of leadership and share the difference it has made to their careers and lives in general.
It made me think about how we can make a complete change in our lives when we are sufficiently motivated. Naturally we all can recognise the health situations that may trigger a “reinvention” – weight, addictions, lifestyle, relationships.
But what about reinventing yourself in a career?
In my Human Resources Management days I used to quote statistics that showed people would have three complete changes of career in their working lives. This was true for me – I went from architecture to human resources to mobile repairs for old books. On each occasion I was reinventing myself but I didn’t think of it that way.
I was looking for a career/job that would satisfy me as well as allow me to contribute my skills in the best way I could.
This, I now know, is the basis of servant leadership. In essence it is about leading people by “serving” them in bringing out the best in them – their skillset, their contribution, their ethics – so that the team or project has a synergy beyond the individuals.
It is not about always saying yes or being a slave to your team members. It is about serving the team/project by being the type of leader that continually finds ways to harness the best skills of each individual team member.
The more I thought about my career history and the reinventions I had made, the more I found I had been exposed to “Servant Leaders”. These were managers who had taken the time to encourage me to explore new ideas, to find answers to existing problems without being constrained by “what had been tried before”, managers who listened and were prepared to learn from me or my experience in a different field. They all brought out the best in me for the particular task or project I was working on with them.
So now when I talk to others about a career change or a reinvention of themselves, I encourage them to think of when and how they did this in the past (particularly when it was not job related), when they felt most appreciated, when they felt most inspired, when they felt most “full of life”. When these moments are identified it is easier to pinpoint what it is that might need change or reinvention. Sometimes it is not your entire career, it’s just a fine tuning of the existing one.
If you are thinking about a career change, feeling burnt out or even lost, angry and frustrated – have a listen to these podcasts and reflect on the experience being shared.