What’s the best thing you can buy with One Singapore Dollar?

I Googled it and found a host of things that you can do! It ranges from a “cup of black coffee” to “a couple of stops” on the local Singapore MRT line (before 7:45 am).

But how can you use One Singapore Dollar to serve others? A simple Singapore Dollar may not be able to support a person significantly. However, collectively, I believe it will have an impact on someone who values the Dollar.

In 1920, Robert K Greenleaf published an essay entitled The Servant as Leader. To be a servant leader, take on a foremost position as a servant. In the Servant Leader context, I am a servant who leads, rather than a leader who serves.

The distinction can be significant. I constantly ask, how can I better serve those around me? But before that, who comes to your mind when you think servant leadership.

The first person who comes to mind for me is Mother Teresa.

Mother Teresa’s life followed all ten characteristics of a servant leader: listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to growth of people and building community. She also leads by example and dedicated her life to serving others while encouraging others to also give themselves.

Here are 3 areas that a servant leader can focus on that makes a difference other people’s life.

1. Shares Power

Generosity is the cardinal virtue of servant leadership. Generally, servant leaders are givers by nature. The desire to serve is a close relation to the desire to give. In giving we receive. The forms of power that I am referring to are time, information, and knowledge. By sharing these valuable resources prudently, servant leaders extend their reach to actively support the needs of those around them. Decision making can be further improved when information is made available to the team. Transparency with information and knowledge leads to greater trust.

2. Serves Other’s Needs First

A leader who puts others first creates an uplifting and motivating culture that inspires confidence among their teams. This leader maintains a high view of the team, shows respect, and listens intently to the need in a nonjudgmental way. Leaders who put others first want to see them succeed. They understand employee’s success does not threaten or diminish their position within the organization. When care is genuinely shown for other’s needs, as opposed to an obsession with the bottom line, retention rates and productivity increases as the teams buy into the company culture.

3. Develops People and Performance

Servant leaders are constantly on a look out for ways to identify, develop and grow people around them. They recognize the need for growth in roles, knowledge, potential so that they may assume greater responsibilities in life and serve their respective communities. A servant leader, inspires, nurtures and mentors their team through different phases of their lives. In return for the growth that is experienced, teams align their efforts in contributing to the success and bottom line of their organizations.

One quote that I strive to live by is by a seminary professor J, Carla Northcutt. She stated,

“The goal of many leaders is to get people to think more highly of a leader. The goal of a great leader is to help people to think more highly of themselves.”

It takes a strong person to be secure enough personally to help others advance their career. A true servant leader looks for opportunities to care for others and to inspire them in their own journey.

This is servant leadership to me.