Gain Competitive Advantage Through Servant Leadership

Photo by Matt McGee on flickr.

Twitter continues to amaze me as a way to connect with interesting people from all over.  Months ago, I met Bill Flint and we began a conversation.  Bill is the founder and CEO of Flint Strategic Partners based in Indiana.

Recently, Bill poured his thirty-eight years of business experience into a book on one of my favorite subjects:  servant leadership.  Bill sees servant leadership as a way to distinguish a company.  In fact, the full title of the book sums it up well:  The Journey to Competitive Advantage Through Servant Leadership.servant leadership

I’ve previously written about the characteristics of servant leadership.  Bill’s book includes his own definition and his unique perspective of this type of leadership.

I decided to share a conversation with Bill about his experiences and his work. I liked Bill’s thought that competitive advantage is like a journey, not a destination. And servant leadership is one way to help you on the path.

Bill, your book is filled with wisdom and information for developing leaders.  Let’s focus on just a few areas.

If you want to be a great leader, you need to watch out for certain temptations.  You share six areas servant leaders need to guard against.  Walk us through these areas and why they can trip up aspiring leaders.

  1. Self-Centeredness: Is when the most important person in your life is yourself. All of us struggle with self-centeredness at times. We are born selfish. A good example is to put a couple of two year olds in one room with one toy and you will see it in action. As a leader, self-centeredness says to your people, “It’s all about me, my accomplishments, my title, and you are here to serve me.” Leaders never really fool their people as they can see right through us. Self-centeredness can destroy the chance leaders have for real meaningful relationships with their people and for achieving the results the business needs. People don’t expect perfect leaders, but they want leaders who are real and care about them.
  2. Sense of Entitlement: Is when you believe because you have a title you are special and should be treated differently than others. You are #1 in your own mind.  Servant leaders put their people first. They realize people (the ones who do the work every day) are entitled to have a leader who will lead them with honesty, caring, integrity and encouragement. A sense of entitlement usually leads to destruction. Just ask the Enron executives and Dennis Kozlowski former CEO of Tyco and so many others who have fallen into the “it’s all about me” trap.

Provoking Thoughts With Tremendous Books

Photo by shutterhacks on flickr.

This is a guest post by Aamir Musharraf who leads the “Read to Succeed” program for Tremendous Life Books. He has worked with AOL/Time Warner and Gannett on various literacy programs.

Books have been my greatest mentors. My personal “search for meaning” initiated with Dr. Victor Frankl and culminated with Charlie “Tremendous” Jones.

For more than 50 years, Charlie was on a mission to help people improve their lives through reading. His worlds of wisdom touched my life. Getting people to read quality books that have the power to change lives has become my personal passion. In his book, Life is Tremendous, Charlie wrote that there are three great decisions in life:

3 Great Decisions

  1. Who are you going to live your life with?
  2. What are you going to live your life in?
  3. And what are you going to live your life for?

 

Who are you going to live your life with?

What are you going to live your life in?

And what are you going to live your life for?

 

I was 17 when I decided to settle in America, 27 when I asked a beauty queen doctoral student in Nashville to be my wife (Thank God she agreed!), and 37 when I discovered my calling to promote literacy. I believe that illiteracy is the greatest evil that confronts mankind. It creates darkness from within, a cancer of dis-empowerment, scarcity, despair, and anger. But knowledge overcomes all.Charles Jones 4

Selling Fearlessly

Photo by amhuxham on flickr.

 Because of his nearly four decade career in sales, Robert Terson is often labeled a master salesman.  He retired from his advertising company in 2010 and is now writing and speaking about sales.  Robert recently released Selling Fearlessly.  After reading the book and talking with Robert, I realized that the book is more than a sales book.  It’s a life book.  It could just as easily be titled Living Fearlessly.

 

Why Relationships Are Important

Robert, alreaSelling Fearlessly Coverdy in my interactions with you, I can tell how important relationships are to you.  Why are relationships so important to success?  How are you able to build relationships with so many people so quickly and easily?

First of all, Skip, I’m not sure the words “so quickly and easily” are applicable. One of my favorite expressions is, “The Tortoise won the race.” It is true that I’ve literally established a few hundred strong relationships over the past 19 months of networking, but it’s been done in a “slowly but surely” methodology. I’ve been going about networking the same way I’ve interacted with people all my life: caring about them, showing an genuine interest in them, trying to help them all I possibly can, creating friendships wherever I go—the bank, cleaners, post office, you name it. I take the time to get to know people well. Then, when I go out to do my errands, I’m not just doing mindless tasks; I’m going out to see my friends. It makes life so much more pleasant and meaningful. It’s smelling the roses and enjoying the journey as you live your daily life. It’s living in the moment.

It’s the same way with networking. When people of interest follow me, I send out personal direct messages inviting them to talk, interact on a high plain. I offer to help them; and it’s not just empty rhetoric, it’s for real. It’s putting into practice what the late Zig Ziglar meant when he said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” It’s giving of yourself, paying it forward, so to speak; and people respond positively to this approach. Who doesn’t want to be around people who genuinely care about them? We all want that! What’s so wonderful about it is how it comes back to you in so many positive ways. Not always directly, but it does come back to you. Those who approach networking with the “it’s all about me” mindset, who are in a hurry to sell something without bothering to establish a solid relationship first, are foolishly self-sabotaging themselves, to say nothing about missing out on a lot of fun.

Let’s talk about fear.  It stops so many of us at various times.  Whether in sales or in life, how do you help people overcome it?

10 Lessons in Teamwork

Photo of the Midnight Rambler by Richard Bennett, Used by Permission

Lessons from the Edge of Endurance

The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, 723 grueling miles, is one of the most demanding sailing events anywhere. In 1998, an unexpected massive storm hit at the wrong time. Waves reaching eighty feet and winds hitting 105 mph pummeled the vessels. Australia launched the largest search and rescue operation in history. In the end, six sailors lost their lives. One hundred fifteen boats started the race, but only forty-four finished.

Leadership expert Dennis Perkins and co-author Jillian Murphy decided to write the untold story of the AFR Midnight Rambler, the 1998 Hobart race winner.

 

Lessons in teamwork: “Make the team the rock star.” -Dennis Perkins

 

Strategies Learned from Challenging Situations

1. Dennis, let’s talk about your new book Into the Storm: Lessons in Teamwork from the Treacherous Sydney to Hobart Ocean Race. Obviously, readers will compare the story of the AFR Midnight Rambler to your previous work and Endurance. How do you compare the two and what led you to the story of the 1998 Hobart? Author Dennis Perkins

Writing about The Ramblers was part of my own journey to find ways of helping leaders and teams deal with daunting challenges. I use stories of adventure and survival to communicate critical strategies that can be used by people in any challenging situation.

The approach began when I was teaching at Yale University, and I began thinking about my voice in the world of leadership and teamwork. I had my own experience with survival in the U.S. Marine Corps, but I believe that success with any significant team challenge has the same underlying ingredients. So I began researching stories of groups that had faced the limits of human endurance, a place I call The Edge.

Leading So People Will Follow

Erika Andersen is a Forbes blogger, a facilitator, consultant, coach, and the founding partner of Proteus International.  She’s also the author of three books:  Leading So People Will Follow, Being Strategic, and Growing Great Employees.  I follow Erika on Twitter and regularly read and share her blog posts.  In all of her writing, she offers advice gleaned from her thirty years of working with executives.
Leading So People Will Follow

I thoroughly enjoyed her most recent book, Leading So People Will Follow and wanted to share this great resource with you.

Erika, this is your third book and really they are related.  For people who aren’t familiar with your work, tell us about each of the books.

Thanks for asking! The three books each have a strong connection to one of our three practice areas at Proteus, the business I founded in 1990.  The first book, Growing Great Employees, is a kind of Boy Scout Handbook for people managers. It’s a very skill-based, practical approach to the whole realm of managing and developing employees: why it’s important and how to do it well.  That book is most connected to the management and leadership training part of our client offer, which we call Building Skills and Knowledge.

The second book, Being Strategic, is most closely connected to our Clarifying Vision and Strategy practice area, where we focus on helping organizations clarify the future they want to create – and then achieve their vision.  That book teaches our model and the associated mental skills for thinking and acting more strategically – in any part of your life.

This new book, Leading So People Will Follow, is connected to our Developing Leaders practice area, where we focus on coaching individual leaders and teams of leaders to get ready and stay ready to succeed into the future.

In your latest book, stories and folklore play a big part.  I love that because children’s books are filled with powerful leadership lessons.  Why did you choose to use fairy tales and stories to get your points across?