Last week, I discussed the benefits of service for those in business careers, specifically entry-level and middle management employees. But don't think that senior level executives have nothing to gain from service.
Running The Place
By the time someone is a senior executive, it should be fair to assume they are effective at what they do -- after all it's gotten them this far. And, it's fair to assume that they are rather set in their ways of doing things, which can be unfortunate but is understandable. What's often frustrating for the more junior people in the organization is that their leaders often seem to be out of touch with their teams and are insulated in their leadership. Basically, the leaders begin to lack empathy for what it's like to not be the one running the place, which can destroy team morale and productivity. If you are a senior leader, set your ego aside for a moment and look at how you interact and manage, could you use a boost of empathy?
The tricky thing about empathy is that it's not something you learn in school or can just implement after reading the latest best-selling book on being a great leader. Our ability to be empathetic is based on our personal experiences and beliefs, and some people were certainly raised to be far more empathetic than others. The good news though is that we can increase our empathy ratio by opening ourselves up to learning, seeing and feeling new things. And, yes, service offers great opportunities.
For the mid-manager seeking to develop new skills I recommended board service, however, that is not what I recommend for those with an empathy deficiency. Instead, I encourage hands-on, up close work with those who are less fortunate. By working directly with those who are hungry, homeless, wounded or have some other challenge, you are almost guaranteed to see things from a new perspective and begin feeling greater empathy. Over time, those feeling will begin to impact all that you do, including how you approach being a leader.
You may be thinking, "what does that homeless person and my staff have in common?" The answer is simple, you. So, why not learn from them all, it might just make you even more successful, not to mention fulfilled.
Business newcomers, middle management, and senior level execs all have career skills to gain from service. These are just a few examples of how service can benefit people in their careers. Wherever you are in your career -- whether just starting out or riding high at the top -- I hope you'll give some thought to how giving of yourself can benefit your journey.