My favorite quote on leadership comes from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: It is a curious thing, Harry, but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those who, like you, have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that they wear it well.

Leadership requires what I call a service-oriented mindset because it’s no longer about you, but how you support your team, your organisation or serve your costumer. How to find out that this is the secret sauce for leadership? Ask your staff. Every company is hierarchical, and the ones at the top make the major decisions. They enjoy certain privileges and benefits but when the fire breaks out in the building, they stay behind until everyone is evacuated. They are not the first to get evacuated. They make sure all staff is safe. What happens if indeed, the leader evacuates first? If he flies on holidays when a cyclone comes? He loses his status as a leader and staff will not agree any longer to his special pay or privileges. Leaders are there to care for their staff but what happens in real times, ambitious young talented women and men become promoted into positions leading teams and organisations without understanding what got them up until here won’t serve them. They need to transition into a mindset of service: its no longer about them but about everyone else. This is why people who are hungry for power and ambitious might not be the best leader because their focus has been on them. But can you learn to focus more outward? To build a team that excels? To enhance a working culture that centres on the costumer? The former CO-CEO Monty Moran of Chipotle, a Mexican Grill in the US, in an interview stated that he built a 3 billion $ business by taking care of his people. He focused on personality and skills. Monty Moran spent time with his team to understand what people are driven by and that everyone is driven by different things. He created a work culture for people to thrive. He ultimately realized that the day only has 24 hours and by him working harder, he won’t build the business he envisioned. This is something that Gallup shows every year: employee engagement is critical, and managers are the key to enable this but is so little understood. Gallup for instance recorded a record high of disengagement in the US since its analysis in 2000. What’s wrong with our leadership models?

In the 21st century, companies need to think entirely differently. Companies like Google have understood how important a work culture is that brings the whole human to work. Google earned 15 awards from Comparably in 2019 alone, including the Best Company Culture, Best CEO, and Best Company for Women awards. Google is also a consistent top-ranking company in Fortune’s Best Companies to Work For list and is featured in Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work list every year.

Gone are the days where we enter the office as professional, leaving ourselves behind. This is an illusion. We are ourselves all the time with our unique capabilities. Companies need to create a workplace that addresses are basic human needs of belonging, creativity, and purpose. Leadership is critical in enforcing this work culture, but this can only happen when leaders have truly grasped leadership is about everyone else and not them. When Harry Potter said we should promote people who doubt if they can be leaders, these are the leaders we should hire.

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