9 Qualities of the Servant Leader

Photo by Michael W. May on flickr.

Leading With Others in Mind

At first blush, you may think a servant leader literally takes on the role of a servant. Taken to an extreme, that definition would look like this:

As you pull into work, the leader meets you at your car, opens your door, and welcomes you to the office.  Maybe the leader gets you coffee mid-morning and drops by in the afternoon to see if you need anything.  When you need assistance on a project, or maybe just someone to do the grunt work, there your leader is, waiting for you.

No, that isn’t servant leadership.

 

“Servant leaders lead with others in mind.” -Skip Prichard

 

Servant leadership is a blend and balance between leader and servant. You don’t lose leadership qualities when becoming a servant leader.

A servant leader is one who:

1. Values diverse opinions.

A servant leader values everyone’s contributions and regularly seeks out opinions.  If you must parrot back the leader’s opinion, you are not in a servant-led organization.

 

“Servant leaders regularly seek out opinions.” -Skip Prichard

 

2. Cultivates a culture of trust.

People don’t meet at the water cooler to gossip. Pocket vetoes are rejected.

 

“Servant leaders cultivate a culture of trust.” -Skip Prichard

 

3.  Develops other leaders.

 

The replication factor is so important.  It means teaching others to lead, providing opportunities for growth and demonstrating by example.  That means the leader is not always leading, but instead giving up power and deputizing others to lead.

 

“Servant leaders give up power and deputize others to lead.” -Skip Prichard

 

FREE SERVANT LEADERSHIP EBOOK. Become a better, more effective leader! To receive free Leadership Insights and posts like this one, just sign up below:

Already on my list? Enter your email above and you'll get instructions on how to access the webinar.

 

4.  Helps people with life issues (not just work issues).

It’s important to offer opportunities for personal development beyond the job.  Let’s say you run a company program to lose weight, or lower personal debt, or a class on etiquette.  None of these may help an immediate corporate need, but each may be important.

 

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?

5 Winning Lessons from Book Covers

Photo by garyhutson flickr.

The other day I shared my annual best book cover list.

Did you ever think that a book cover could teach powerful life lessons?  What’s the leadership lesson from a book cover?  Last year, I shared how they can help with goal setting.  This year, let’s consider what the great book covers teach us.

A great book cover teaches us to:

 

Be expressive.  The best covers communicate.  They may be bursting with color.  They convey ideas but also evoke emotion.  Winners are people who express who they are without reservation.

Be original.  There are many book covers that look the same.  Winners stand out.  Name five people who you would define as winners and leaders.  My guess is that you also describe them as independent and unique.

Why You Should Empower Employees

Several weeks ago, my wife and I headed out for a quick lunch.  I had been traveling and speaking in a few cities and was glad to be home.  Before lunch, we needed a few supplies and stopped at Target.

Target does a lot right.  Wide, brightly lit aisles.  Easy-to-find merchandise.  And friendly staff who seem happy.

When I was grabbing the items I needed off the shelf, I noticed a sign.  “Buy three of these items and get a $5 gift card,” one sign said.  The other said, “Buy two and get another $5 gift card.”  I only needed one of each item, but I thought why not take the money so I loaded up.

At the checkout counter, we paid for items and then I asked about our gift cards.  We liked the kind woman who was helping us.  She was efficient and the type who could build a relationship fast.  “I thought about that,” she responded.  “Let me check….no, this item doesn’t qualify for some reason.  I know you only bought this many so you would get the card.”

She pulled open the Target brochure, looked at the item, and still couldn’t figure why it didn’t give us the cards.  I explained that I checked the labels when I took the items off the shelf and that they were immediately behind the sign.  She shook her head and offered to have someone go check the sign.

Immediately in my mind I pictured what would happen:  A light would go off.  She would get on an intercom and bellow, “Man in Aisle 9 needs a price check!”  We would hold up the line, miss our lunch reservation, and a manager would come out to talk to us.

“Forget it,” I said, not wanting to cause a scene and not having any time to wait.  For me, the pain wasn’t worth it.  (But I’m thrifty enough that it did bother me.)

“I’m sorry,” she responded with an “I wish I could do something” attitude.

Management Lesson

This is not a story about Target.  It’s a good store.  This is not a story about the checkout clerk.  She was so nice we would seek out her line next time.

It’s a lesson for management.  And it’s all about empowerment.

Leading Through the 5 Stages of Change

In yesterday’s post, I interviewed Jim Huling about the disciplines of execution.  The concepts in the The 4 Disciplines of Execution were so fascinating, we continued the conversation.

 

5 Stages of Changing Behavior

Much of leadership is influencing people to change.  You talk about the five stages of changing human behavior.  Would you explain these and is there one stage more difficult to move through than the others?

Because changing human behavior is such a big job, many leaders face challenges when first installing 4DX.  In fact, we’ve found that most teams go through five distinct stages of behavior change.

Stage 1: Getting Clear – The leader and the team commit to a new level of performance. They are oriented to 4DX and develop crystal-clear WIGs (wildly important goals), lag and lead measures, and a compelling scoreboard. They commit to regular WIG sessions. Although you can naturally expect varying levels of commitment, team members will be more motivated if they are closely involved in the 4DX work session.

Stage 2: Launch – Now the team is at the starting line. Whether you hold a formal kickoff meeting, or gather your team in a brief huddle, you launch the team into action on the WIG. But just as a rocket requires tremendous, highly focused energy to escape the earth’s gravity, the team needs intense involvement from the leader at this point of launch.

5 Stages of Behavior Change

  1. Getting Clear
  2. Launch
  3. Adoption
  4. Optimization
  5. Habits

Stage 3: Adoption – Team members adopt the 4DX process, and new behaviors drive the achievement of the WIG. You can expect resistance to fade and enthusiasm to increase as 4DX begins to work for them. They become accountable to each other for the new level of performance despite the demands of the whirlwind.

Stage 4: Optimization – At this stage, the team shifts to a 4DX mindset. You can expect them to become more purposeful and more engaged in their work as they produce results that make a difference. They will start looking for ways to optimize their performance—they now know what “playing to win” feels like.