Transform Your Organization with Servant Leadership

Transform Your Organization

I’ve personally traveled all over the globe teaching servant leadership. My book, Leading With Others in Mind, is all about the nine qualities of a servant leader and how every organization can benefit from these practices.

Art Barter recently wrote a journal, The Servant Leadership Journal, which takes readers through an 18-week journey. Filled with space for reflection and exercises, the book is a thoughtful way to reinforce the servant leadership mindset. Art is the owner of Datron World Communications, Inc., and he took that business from $10 million to $200 million using these principles. Because of his passion for this type of leadership, Art has also founded the Servant Leadership Institute.

I recently asked him about his work in this area.



Find Your Why

What would you say to yourself if you could go back and talk to the Art just starting his career?

I would tell the Art just starting his career to respect authority, find his “why” and not let others define him. And I would tell him to find a mentor who practiced servant leadership. With that kind of attitude, I would have looked for the significance in my career, not just success, at a much earlier age. I wish I had realized the importance of serving first and knowing the joy that comes from helping your employees thrive.




Why did you decide to do a journal versus a traditional book?

The word “serve” is a verb, an action word. Presenting our behaviors of a servant leader as a journal gets readers involved in action — working to change their behavior, which in turn helps to change mindset. Working through the journal and creating their own visualization for living the behaviors will have a greater impact on their transformation. As Ken Blanchard says, “Leadership is an inside out job.” The journal involves readers with the “inside” work only they can do. The goal is to create leaders who live with an orientation toward serving others.



Practice, Practice, Practice

What’s the best way to change behavior? How do we know which behaviors to change first?

I think the best way to change behavior is to practice, practice, practice. Set small goals and be intentional. You will begin to assess situations differently, from a servant’s perspective. You will approach others with an attitude of, “How can I add value here?”

As for which behavior to change first, one approach we advocate is to work on the Serve First behavior before moving on to the other behaviors. But we also need to meet people where they are, so another approach is to do a self-assessment or have peers assess you on the nine behaviors and work on the ones for which you have the lowest scores.

Through this process, I cannot emphasize enough the need to listen to those closest to you.  They will give you great feedback if you are willing to listen and then act.



Cultivate Servant Leadership Behaviors

What are some of the servant leadership behaviors that aspiring leaders should cultivate?

I would say Serve First, Build Trust, Live your Values, Listen to Understand, Think About Your Thinking, Demonstrate Courage, Add Value to Others, Increase your Influence and Live your Transformation. These are the servant leader behaviors developed and taught by the Servant Leadership Institute. When we transformed the culture of our radio company, Datron World Communications, these were the behaviors we found most effective, and they are a part of our foundational training curriculum.


Why is learning to serve others so counterintuitive, deceptively easy-sounding but actually quite difficult to master? 

We live in a world of, “What’s in it for me?” So it’s very difficult to think of serving others first.

Because we are human and humans do not all serve naturally, we have an ego to keep in check constantly. Serving can be a learned behavior. It’s a matter of changing our mindset, always looking at our motives. Since we are imperfect people, it’s a never-ending process.



How are courage and accountability linked?

Courage and accountability go hand-in-hand. To be a truly accountable individual, you must be brave enough to admit your shortcomings and failures. Through that bravery, the wonderful thing that happens is trust is built with your co-workers, your leaders, your customers or your family. On the job, you must be willing to confront reality both in yourself and in the organization. Leaders must be brave enough to focus on how to get the results, not just on the results themselves.



Practice a Visualization Routine

How does the practice of visualization support the goal of servant leadership? Do you do this daily? Weekly?

My visualization routine is a daily practice. I go through it every day because it sets the tone for my day and gets me thinking in the right mindset. I talk about the steps of this visualization process in my book. It’s personal to my life — who I am and who I want to be. The elements of the visualization can be different for everyone, but I believe it should be practiced daily.




For more information, see The Servant Leadership Journal .



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