Servant Leadership in Action

Servant Leadership

What Is Servant Leadership?

By Ken Blanchard

What do you think of when you hear the term servant leadership? Do you picture a workplace culture where managers and direct reports work side by side, set goals, collaborate on projects, solve problems and celebrate victories together? Or do you picture a chaotic scene from a movie where the inmates are running the prison?

If you don’t understand servant leadership, it may be because you think people can’t lead and serve at the same time. But they can, if they recognize that there are two kinds of leadership involved in servant leadership: strategic and operational.

Strategic leadership has to do with vision and direction. It’s the leadership aspect of servant leadership. Leadership is about going somewhere. If you and your people don’t know where you are going, your leadership doesn’t matter. A compelling vision ensures everyone is going in the same direction. Once the organization has a compelling vision, they can set goals and define strategic initiatives that help people know what to focus on right now. The traditional hierarchical pyramid is effective for this part of servant leadership because, while the leader should involve experienced people in helping to shape direction, the ultimate responsibility remains with the leader and cannot be delegated to others.


“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.” –Theodore Hesburgh


As soon as people are clear on where they are going, the hierarchical pyramid is philosophically turned upside-down. Now the leader’s role shifts to a service mindset for operational leadership, which has to do with implementation. The question now is: How do we live according to the vision and accomplish the establish goals? Implementation is the servant aspect of servant leadership. It includes policies, systems, and leader behaviors that flow from senior management to frontline employees—and make it possible for people in the organization to live according to the vision and values and accomplish short-term goals and initiatives.


Create a Servant Leadership Culture

How to Orchestrate Your Attitude

This is a guest post by Lee Colan and Julie Davis-Colan of The L Group, Inc., a consulting firm that has served leaders at every level since 1999. They are the authors of Getting the Best from Yourself and Others.

Your Attitude Determines Your Success

How do you measure success? Is it by financial security, career growth, community involvement, quality of relationships, spiritual centeredness or the legacy you leave? Whichever measure you choose, your attitude is the single most important factor in achieving success.


“Your attitude is the single most important factor in achieving success.”


The topic of attitude can be conceptual and confusing. In fact, as we go through life we often hear phrases like, “Keep your chin up,” “Look on the bright side,” or “You need a winning attitude.” Unfortunately, we seldom know how to convert these soft sayings into hard results.

The great news is that even in the worst situations – a victim of a natural disaster, prisoner of war, target of abuse or when hit by a string of unfortunate circumstances – your attitude is something you can always control!

When we control our attitude we influence how our body responds and performs. Where our thoughts and attitudes go, our bodies follow. For example, blushing is a physical reaction to a mere thought. If we have this kind of reaction to a thought, is it such a leap of faith to believe that we can orchestrate our attitudes to affect our bodies in beneficial ways?


“The choice of attitude is yours. Tomorrow you will become what you choose today.”


A landmark study shed light on the ultimate benefit of a positive attitude. In this particular study, participants who were more positive lived an average of 10 years longer than the other participants. Considering that smoking has been shown to reduce life expectancy by 5.5 years for men and 7 years for women, your attitude might be a health risk factor worth paying real attention to.

The choice of attitude is yours. Tomorrow you will become what you choose today.


Study: positive participants lived 10 years longer than other participants.


A Script for Orchestrating Attitude

There are three aspects of the script that work in concert: thoughts, words and actions. By orchestrating each aspect with conscious responses, we positively influence our beliefs, commitments and results.


Orchestrating Attitude Script


The script plays out like this:

  • Thoughts, the way we choose to interpret our world, directly influence our beliefs.
  • Beliefs directly influence the words we choose to speak to others, and more importantly, to ourselves.
  • Words reflect our commitments to ourselves and others.
  • Commitments influence our choice of actions.
  • Finally, our actions directly influence the results we achieve.

This script is self-reinforcing, for better or for worse. The results we achieve reinforce our thoughts, and the same script is played out again. So, it all starts with our thoughts. Our thoughts today influence our results tomorrow.