Happiness as a Service - blog 4: Sustainable serving
Turning serving from a state into a trait requires long-term actions, in two ways:
- Personal habit
- Collective culture
Serving as an energizer not a depleter
The positive buzz of knowing that you have helped someone is a very powerful one, that gives instant satisfaction, and yet… as we wrote in our last blog, those who give without boundaries can end up feeling resentful, hard done by, unrecognized, exhausted and unsupported.
Adam Grant nails this concept in “Givers and Takers” with his analysis that “healthy givers” tend to be more successful at work than takers or limitless givers. It is likely that the takers eventually get outed, and the limitless givers get severely depleted. This is particularly relevant to servant leadership and how to be an effective and sustainable leader in any organization. Grant talks about how to manage an “open door policy”, a leader who is available to their followers at all times will find themself with no undisturbed focus time, and quite possibly unable to make progress on the important things they really should be doing.
The challenge is to find the way to become a “healthy” servant leader. Deciding which of the traits of servant leadership will suit you and your leadership vision, then finding the way to live them in a way that energizes you is a good first step.
There’s a balance to be found between the deceptively positive attitude of being constantly available, helpful and hands on, (and as a result unintentionally undermining development of team members) and delegating in a way that will encourage accountability, experimentation, and growth. Important to note that this is only possible in workplace cultures with psychological safety, that share the belief that making mistakes is human, knowing that you can flag when things are going wrong and count on getting the support needed to get things back on track.
HOW TO ORDER HAPPINESS AS A SERVICE :
Within a work culture the key to maintaining a culture of collaboration and serving others is to develop the ability to recognize and reward what often goes unnoticed - the invaluable work and often invisible contributions that will contribute to team performance:
- Who are the positive influencers? The people who to paraphrase Oscar Wilde “cause happiness wherever they go” not the others, “who cause happiness whenever they go”
- Who are the connectors? The people who are like the glue that keep the team together, who know what’s going on, bring people together to work collaboratively, and create a sense of belonging.
- Who are the humanizers who make everyone feel included and seen?
- Who are the supporters? Those who are willing to help out teammates with their expertise, support or kindness
- Who makes work feel meaningful?
- Who are the servant leaders? Those who have made this style of leadership their own, and who embody the key attributes in a way that allows both them and their followers to stretch and grow in a sustainable way.
And once you figure out the people who you do want to have around you it also becomes easy to identify the characteristics that you prefer to keep at arm’s length, because they will deplete rather than add to your energy and productivity.
When looking to create an environment where servant leadership and psychological safety prevails there has to be a general attitude of service that permeates the whole organization. This needs to be reciprocal, so top down, bottom up and between colleagues; and it needs trust, collaboration and psychological safety, if you are defensive or worried about protecting your image the authenticity element will be missing and the risk of servility or abuse of the concept of servant leadership becomes likely.
Creating this kind of culture starts with individual leaders, who by serving will be serving both their own happiness and productivity and that of those around them. You can find out more about what is going on in your team or company by running a team or an organizational report that will give you an x-ray of the current state of affairs and suggestions of what to do to create more of the kind of atmosphere you would like to be working in.
We are so used to Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) or even Everything as a Service (XaaS). In all of these cases, you the customer is being served. Over these four blogs, we propose that you can experience Happiness as a Service (HaaS), too. In contrast to the other examples, the key is to be the one serving others.
Try it. It will bring you more than you think.