A young aspiring candidate enters the office of the hiring manager. Time is set to do a job interview. The usual formalities are exchanged along with a little small talk.
“Have a seat” says the senior. The questions begin. Things are moving along pretty well, then oops. Something is said by the candidate that seems to spark a reaction from the interviewer. A bit of a tantrum ensues. The manager collects himself, then utters the immortal words “it’s not personal.”
“The heck it’s not personal, there are only two of us in the room” thinks the candidate.
Managers who may be quick to spew their emotions and opinions must be mindful of the impact those words can have. Just because you have the power of your position to give you a degree of authority over your crew, you never have authority to abuse or berate the people who work for you.
In domestic scenarios we call it abuse. Sadly, all too often this kind of abuse happens at work. Managers take advantage of the people “underneath” them.
It is for this very reason I have become an advocate for servant leadership. If your work is approached with a servant’s heart, you will never be tempted to lash out at those for whom you have responsibility. With servant leadership the whole pyramid of organizational structure is turned upside down. Rather than the CEO being at the top of the heap, the leader is really at the bottom, looking for ways to serve the team.
In his book, The Culture Engine, organizational consultant S. Chris Edmonds says that servant leadership is the foundation for leading others effectively. According to Edmonds, [callout]”I define servant leadership as a person’s dedication to helping others be their best selves at home, work, and in their community. Anyone can serve–and lead–from any position or role in a family, workplace, or community.”[/callout]
Servant leaders believe that…
- Every person has value and deserves civility, trust, and respect
People can accomplish much when inspired by a purpose beyond themselves
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According to Edmonds, the five practices of servant leaders include the following…
1. Clarify and reinforce the need for service to others
Servant leaders educate the members of their team through their words and actions, and they encourage their people to set aside self-serving behaviors in favor of serving others.
2. Listen intently and observe closely
Servant leaders really listen to their people, and they actively solicit their participation, their ideas, and their feedback. In time, they get to know the worldview of each one of their employees, and they tailor their leadership approach accordingly.
3. Act as selfless mentors
Servant leaders know that by helping to guide the people who work for them, they will help their employees learn vital skills that will both improve their performance, and improve them as people.
4. Demonstrate persistence
Servant leaders realize that one or two conversations may not have the desired change in an employee’s assumptions or mindset. So they are tenacious and invest whatever time it takes to educate and inspire servant leadership practices in the members of their team.
5. Lovingly hold themselves and others accountable for their commitments
Servant leaders know that no one is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes–including themselves. With that in mind, they push for high standards of performance, service quality, and alignment of values throughout the team, and they hold themselves and their people accountable for their performance.
[reminder]How have you seen servant leadership played out at your work?[/reminder]
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Some collaborative anecdotal ideas courtesy of Tripp Braden.