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The Helper Trait
Mature leaders who possess the helper leadership trait care about assisting their peers and employees. Such leaders promote a culture focused on leadership coaching and mutual help in their organizations. Derailing helpers can use their leadership abilities for destructive purposes, however. Executive coaching can help leaders steer clear of this behavior.
Servant leadership is part and parcel of the paradigm of intelligent leadership. The purpose of servant leadership is to build well-performing communities by helping others succeed and creating environments in which communities can succeed as teams.
Leaders possessing predominant helper traits seek to lead through trust and inspiration rather than authority. As I have pointed out in my leadership coaching books, such leaders crave the respect and admiration of their peers and reports.
Respect and admiration are the helper leader’s most burning needs.
The Characteristics of the Helper Leader
The helper works hard, respects others, and cares for them. When people don’t respond in kind, helpers become confused and irritated.
A mature helper is one of the most positive, caring, and sensitive leaders one could have. Mature helpers are considerate and passionate about helping others succeed as individuals and as members of teams.
At their inner cores, mature helpers have well-anchored senses of identity. They understand their motives and know what they want to accomplish.
How Do You Recognize the Helper Trait in Yourself?
The helper trait may be your predominant leadership trait if:
- You are a good active listener and genuinely support others.
- Your business coaching skills are outstanding, and you promote a coaching culture in your organization.
- You are warm, friendly, and like to work with others.
- People know you as a reliable, steady person that’s calm and supportive.
- You value long-term relationships more than the flawless completion of tasks and assignments.
- You don’t tie strings to your generosity or the support you give.
- You are open to sharing your personal feelings and can handle conflict effectively.
When the Helper Trait Derails
Like everything concerning leadership, the helper trait can derail and backfire. If you know you’re a helper and find yourself attaching strings to your support, you’ve wandered off the righteous track.
When derailing, helpers can become toxic and counterproductive in leadership positions. Derailing helpers:
- Talk more about their own feelings than those of others
- Talk the talk, but fail to walk the walk
- Advertise their supportive nature, generosity, and respect, but don’t put any of those virtues into practice
- Interfere in affairs that do not concern them under the pretense of caring
- Become addicted to having people depend on them
- Expect to be seen as the top source of advice in the organization
- Demand constant thanks and appreciation from others
In their truly toxic form, helpers can:
- Be manipulative and focus solely on selfish interests
- Control others
- Be unsure of their identities and feel disappointed and victimized
- Feel entitled and expect things on silver platters
- Grow resentful and ready to strike at whoever’s in their crosshairs
Even helpers can derail.
Executive Coaching Can Help
To stay on track and make their helper trait an asset for their organizations, leaders can adopt a few measures to ensure they keep their feet grounded.
- Ask yourself what employees need and provide it. Your job is not to make your team happy but to be helpful.
- Allow traits like your compassion, unselfishness, and generosity to speak for themselves. Such virtues have a way of prevailing and attracting people. If you’re a genuine helper, you don’t need to manipulate others into respecting or valuing you.
- Practice self-awareness and recognize your tendencies to derail. Be aware of your need to be liked and how this may skew your decisions.
- Be aware that a derailing helper trait may push you to give underserved praise to employees you like while withholding deserved praise from those you don’t like.
- Don’t sacrifice working, established relationships to build new ones.
- Don’t hide behind intentions. People may judge you solely on actions and not intentions. By citing intentions as justifications for your deeds, you lie to yourself.
To work with a helper, focus on building rapport and earning trust. Be patient and show you care. Helpers are somewhat careless with time, so take this into account when you allocate resources.