Skip main navigation

Redefining leadership as a service

How to redefine leadership as a service

Before you watch the video in this step with Former Onyx CEO Tony Coles, ask yourself – do you consider yourself a leader first or a servant first?

Tony explains a refreshing philosophy of servant leadership and how it “has influenced almost everything” he has done for the past decade.

What is Servant Leadership?

Robert K. Greenleaf coined the phrase “servant leadership” in his 1970 essay The Servant as Leader. He quotes:

“It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead.”

Over to you – define who you serve

After you watch the video answer the following questions about yourself and your constituencies (your stakeholders or staff at work, the core group in your personal life).

The first thing you may need to do is recognise yourself as a leader – even if you do not work in a leadership role. We all act as leaders in various ways within our lives. Tweak the questions below, if you wish to apply them to your personal life.

Social awareness: Who do you serve in your role as leader? Who are the people without whom you couldn’t do your job?

  • Who are your core constituencies?

Make a list of your key stakeholders. How can you best serve each constituent’s interests in your next major strategic decision? (Or, what interests must you take into account when making your next major strategic decision?)

Self-awareness: How do you create value as a leader?

  • What do you see as your purpose?

Relationship management: How do you “lean in” and get the best out of everyone on your team?

  • Who are the members of your team?

Make a list of your direct reports. What are the strengths and weaknesses of each person? How can you modify your style in your interactions with each person to meet that person where he or she is?

Example: Sam would make a great presentation to the board, but he needs support when it comes to adding substance and analysis. I can pair him with Tracy, our best analyst, for this board presentation and can check in with them at regular intervals leading up to the meeting to give feedback.

Self-management: In what ways do you use personal attributes like patience and thoughtfulness to manage your decision-making?

  • Recall a professional or personal situation in which you wish you had been more patient. How did your impatience affect the interaction? What would you have done differently?

In practice

During your next conversation with a core constituency member, ask one to three clarifying questions. How does actively listening affect the quality of the conversation?

This article is from the free online

Emotional Intelligence in Practice

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education