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The servient leader

Claude Schuck is the regional manager for Africa at Veeam

My management style is called servient leadership, which is selfless leadership. When I walk into the office my approach is what can I do for my colleagues who work with me – not for me – rather than what they can do for me. I believe I’m a resource and they can utilise me to make their work easier.

I start every new day as if it is my first day at work. It is important for managers to recognise that you have to start the day afresh and that you have to forget about yesterday. Reset your mind and your whole expectation for a new day. The movie Groundhog Day comes to mind where every day is the same. Do not get stuck in a routine as you won’t be able to grow.

“I believe I’m a resource and they can utilise me to make their work easier.”

My mentor and sounding board for the last eight years is a former managing director who has been in the IT industry for many years. We have conversations about life, work and decisions and I’ll often bounce ideas off him before I’ll ask for advice. He started at the bottom and went on to run big organisations and there are now a few leaders in the industry who lean on him. I’ve learned the most from him in terms of leadership and my approach to it.

I’m fortunate enough to play golf with him from time to time, but when it comes to mentoring, I like to keep it more structured and I’ll set up our conversations over a coffee or a breakfast. We talk about the industry and trends and sometimes

I just need to have someone to vet whether I’m seeing it right or whether I’m missing something. It keeps me grounded and it hopefully helps me make the correct decision.

He is an industry veteran with experience of what I’m going through, so he often has good advice to give.

“If you learn personally from someone who has spent time in the saddle and has been there more than once, it accelerates your path.”

When identifying a mentor, leaders should choose someone with experience and confidence and preferably not a person they directly report to, but rather someone laterally in the organisation, or above that or an individual who is not part of the same organisation.

I believe you grow in your professional capacity and if you learn personally from someone who has spent time in the saddle and has been there more than once, it accelerates your path.

I have a handful of individuals in the industry who reach out to me for advice over a cup of coffee or via a telephone call. In the conversations they would ask me for my opinion and lean on me to guide them.

The best piece of advice I’ve received from my mentor is to separate emotion from fact. As individuals we become emotional and make emotional decisions that are probably not in the business’ best interest. You have to look at the facts and remove your emotions as feelings change quickly, but facts remain.