Throughout my tenure coaching a variety of clients across the country, I’m often asked the secret to leadership. Many managers want to know the quickest and easiest way to make their direct reports effective and successful within their organization.

Here’s the hard truth: there is no “easy” button to achieving results when it comes to servant leadership. 

You must intentionally invest in your people to achieve great results.

Read the sentence again. 

Instead of trying to find the secret to leadership – or hit the easy button – 21st-century leaders must engage, equip, encourage, and empower their employees to achieve the greatest results. What follows are simple but effective methods and techniques to help you develop your employees into great teammates, and even better leaders.  

Engage

To engage is to become involved. Leaders who engage study their employees and seek to understand the strengths and weaknesses of every team member. Jim Collins once said, “Get the right people on the bus and then get them on the right seat on the bus.” Leaders must engage their people, study them, and get to know what makes them tick and ultimately thrive.  

Equip

Once servant leaders engage and begin to understand their employees, they determine how to equip them. Equipping is about ensuring each direct report is individually developed based on their specific goals. It’s a form of mentorship that understands and meets the needs of each individual based on their personality, desires, and dreams.  

Encourage

The development road will not always be easy. This is when the servant leader must find ways to encourage their employees. Encourage them when they win. Encourage them when they’re down. Encourage them to be who they were created to be. My friend and mentor, Bob Livesay, once told me, “The me you see is the me I’ll be.” As a servant leader, you must look for and see what your employees cannot see in themselves. Envision the potential of your employees and set their soul on fire to be more then they ever thought they could be.

Empower

The final aspect of servant leadership is to empower your employees. A word of caution, though: don’t empower until you’ve equipped. There have been many times where I’ve seen leaders set employees up for failure because they threw them into the preverbal fire without first equipping them to achieve success. Empowerment not only releases your direct reports to do what you’ve entrusted them to do, but it also frees you up to do the things only you can do. 

NFL Hall of Fame Player and Coach Tony Dungy once said, “Engage, educate, equip, encourage, empower, energize, and elevate. Those are the methods for maximizing the potential of any individual, team, organization, or institution for ultimate success and significance. Those are the methods of a mentor leader.” Do you have a plan to equip and encourage your employees? How and when will you empower them to achieve great results? If you are unsure, the methods outlined above can get you started.