Servant leadership: Cutting through the hype

According to Wikipedia, servant leaders demonstrate the following qualities: listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, growth and building community.  These are not qualities one can profess.  They have to be cultivated from deep within and their presence or lack thereof is clearly evident to others.

In the book Good to Great, Jim Collins calls this Level 5 Leadership.  He describes the level 5 leader as one who is able to “subjugate their egoistic needs to the greater ambition of building something larger and more lasting than themselves.”  Charismatic leaders are able to produce extraordinary results – but the level 5 leader produces extraordinary results that are sustainable beyond his/her direct involvement.  A level 5 leader builds greatness into the organization that continues after the leader’s departure.  For a level 5 leader the achievement is not about them – it’s about maximizing the performance of the organization.

Another indication of higher-functioning leaders is that their behaviors do not change in response to varying levels of maturity or performance in the people around them.  They cultivate meaningful relationships with everyone – including those they may have identified as not being in the right seat.

Self awareness is the first necessity for those with level 5 or servant leadership in mind.  Here are some assessments I found online.

A recent Right Management survey shows that there is a lot of unrest among the worker community and that an improving economy may herald unprecedented turnover in our organizations.  Hopefully we are all seeking ways to connect with our teams to make their worklife a great experience.  Promoting servant leadership is one way to truly engage employees, increase productivity, and make the workday more rewarding for all.

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Emotional contagion

I read this article a week ago and then found myself drawn to it a second time.  In it, the author posits that it is possible to “catch” moods from others.  It’s a great read – it will only take you five minutes – but it may change the way you greet those you care about the next time you enter your home or office.

It was a recent episode of Dog Whisperer that made me go back and read it a second time.  Before allowing a new dog to enter his compound Cesar watches how the dog pack reacts to the new dog’s energy.  He does this because experience tells him that allowing entrance to an aggressor changes the group dynamic and can create unfortunate results.

I can’t help but make a correlation to the workplace (no disrespect to humans intended).  Unless we work from home and have no human interaction whatsoever, each of us is impacting others simply by virtue of our presence.  What a great opportunity to assess our spoken and unspoken messaging to become more intentional in our relationships.

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Social Networking — The Early Days

Social networking has had a string of early pioneers – among them, Eleanor Roosevelt.

Eleanor grew up in the U.S. at a time when women were just beginning to find their voice.  She married into a wealthy family who never completely accepted her and then became the first lady in 1933 when her husband Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected the 32nd president of the United States.

She was an active speaker prior to her husband’s election and she continued these activities despite intense criticism lobbed at both she and FDR.  At that time women were not permitted to attend press conferences so she settled the score by holding her own press conferences and inviting only women.  She made her point and after a number of years society relented and the press conference became a co-ed event.  She hosted a monthly television show called “Prospects of Mankind” where prominent political and social leaders discussed the issues of the times – and maintained a daily syndicated column called “My Day” which ran for nearly 30 years.

Eleanor Roosevelt campaigned in a serious way for causes she believed in such as putting an end to child labor, gaining a more equal footing for women and ousting racial discrimination.

She was known for her unbending devotion to her principles yet somehow maintained a sense of humor as witnessed in this remark:

“I once had a rose named after me and I was very flattered.  But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: No good in a bed, but fine up against a wall.”