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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.