Servant Leaders Aren’t Doormats
Serving for the sake of serving is noble.
Serving for results is servant leadership.
In organizational life, the goal of serving isn’t just service, it’s results.
How do you serve for results without being manipulative?
- Be transparent with goals.
- Deal with miscommunication, misunderstanding, and confusion quickly. Hiding from tough issues always results in manipulation.
- Serve those who pull the rope with you. Service that prolongs helplessness isn’t servant leadership.
- Realign or remove people who pull the rope sideways. Servant leadership includes sacrifice, but isn’t martyrdom.
- Commit to shared values. How will we treat each while achieving our goals?
- Agree on high standards.
- Servant leaders enable others to serve. Don’t encourage helplessness by doing someone’s job for them.
Cheryl Bachelder, CEO of Popeyes, has written a gem of a book on getting results as a servant leader – “Dare to Serve: How to Drive Superior Results by Serving Others.” Here are a few of her reflection points.
- What is your coaching routine? Do you have a specific and thoughtful development plan for each of your team members?
- How do you hold your team accountable and discourage victim mindsets or blaming others?
- How does your team hold you accountable?
- How do you and your team model humility in your daily actions?
- Are you and your team listening carefully and learning continuously from the people you serve?
- Do you have big ambitions for yourself or big aspirations for the people on your team?
- What is your daring aspiration for your team that is beyond what they know how to accomplish today?
What misunderstandings about servant leadership hinder success?
How do you align servant leadership with achieving results?
Connect with Cheryl:
Web: Cheryl Bachelder
Facebook: Serving Performs
Linkedin: Cheryl Bachelder
Buy, “Dare to Serve.”
The key is absolutely to serve without doing their job for them. Serve and coach in the right combination….anything out of balance in that equation destroys the leadership intent
A leader can serve for results by focusing on building his or her team –some may need delegated tasks with general guidance then room to make things happen; others may need mentoring or coaching with much more specific and frequent feedback and affirmation. Once the team members are moving in the right direction, the leader can move between them and direct his or her energy on obstacle removal, allowing his team members to truly soar. I’m a fan of celebrating progress and taking every opportunity to honor and reward learning, courage, innovation, teamwork and of course bottom line results.
I couldn’t agree more with this posting and appreciate the “Reflection” questions. Particularly #3. I have just been contemplating this exact thing, as we near our annual review time. What feedback can I get from my team to make us better? And how do I go about that, without making them uncomfortable?
Servant Leadership is a huge deal in the company that I work for. We exist to grow leaders within the company are asked to take classes to make not only ourselves better, but to make our teams better too. Getting copies of your book would be extremely beneficial to my team!
I couldn’t agree more we talked about this in our staff meeting yesterday he can’t
having served as a local municipal politician and lead a team in business, your points are right on, be a leader by empowering others
Would love to win this book!!
Well said on all accords.
Don’t serve because you are asked to; serve because you want to.
My job is to help people work together as a team. To help them to focus on the things they are doing, on the things that are most important to our company. To help them have more relevance to other functions. Instead of standing over their shoulder and help each of them to improve their job, to find a way to increase the impact of the job they are already doing. I am not here to be the smartest person in the room, I am here to help the smartest people in the company to have more impact.
Cheryl’s talk at Q Commons-Atlanta was powerful. She is informed, experienced and practices what she preaches.
Great to have the confirmation of “sacrifice” versus “martyrdom” – one speaks of service, the other of ego… Love it!
This sounds like a spot-on read. I am going to get the book one way or the other . . .
Would like to receive a copy of this book.
I think the key is “are you listening carefully”. We have made it a point to meet with our customers, conduct short surveys, and share our development plans. This had led to connection, clarity, and daily builds good working relationships.
I agree 100%. We had a meeting this week about a team member who was not performing well and we establish that we failed to communicate clearly to him what was expected.
Personally, thought provoking, currently have been thinking about development plans, often specific but not maybe thoughtful. Approach for others success, development, growth…Absolutely
Always love your posts. I resonate with the first point about “Being transparent with goals.” Too many leaders walk around with the vision for their company or team stuck between their ears. People need to know where you are headed so they can help you get there.
While managing/supervising manufacturing, I have had the most success when I use the approach that I am there to support (serve) my employees. The employees are so responsive to this type of leadership, that I wouldn’t even have to ask anyone to do overtime; they would take it upon themselves to stay or come in on weekends to make certain our custom products were assembled to meet our customer delivery requirements. People give more than 100% when they know you are routing for and helping them achieve their own goals.
Great post. I think it is important to learn what daring aspirations team members have for themselves and do everything you can to help them meet those aspirations.
I agree…I believe that the job description on supervisors and managers is a simple one; “the accomplishment of goals through the efforts of other” if we fail to supply, support and encourage out teams we fail as a group, and we as mangers fail, since the goals will never be accomplished in excellence
Recently i was having a discussion with a group of non-profit agencies about the “leadership” function – both as a service provider and as a local system leader. I suggested that at the system level they would probably be more successful at influencing change by using a “servant leadership” approach (Greenleaf). I was surprised by the negative reaction i received from a few of them. I’m going to try the conversation again – but this this time using the questions that you’ve posed here as they seem a bit more leading then the approach i was trying. Oh – and the book would probably be a great resource for the conversation too. Thanks for this!
I’m a fairly new manager and am struggling with this very thing. I’ve made it my goal this year to learn to be a better coach for my team. I’ve always been a “do-er” and transitioning into being a serving coach has been a struggle. I’m learning how to balance getting done what I need to and managing my team through their tasks, but still making coaching, training and learning a priority. It’s tough! Thank you for this post!
Thanks Kristina. Along with Cheryl’s book, I recommend, “Coaching for Engagement“
As a servent leader I get so tired of people confusing my niceness for weakness. Good servant leaders help others set their expectations and encourage them to stetch. Then they hold them accountable to those expectations while always being available to remove roadblocks and provide the necessary tools.
the key is to put the agenda of your team above all else
I spent the last ten years before retirement preaching servant leadership in my law enforcement agency’s leadership development program. This concept can initially be a tough sell to many in a quasi-military organization, but really it aligns with the “service before self” philosophy that is practiced by all authentic “peace officers.” Thanks for this post!
Would love to read this book. Sounds like something that will stretch me for sure.
What misunderstandings about servant leadership hinder success?
How do you align servant leadership with achieving results? Servant leadership is hindered when service is misunderstood for slave. There is a difference. Service means supporting coaching mentoring others to be their best.
Would love a copy of the book.
Liked the post & the selected theme.
Serving people requires good dedication, self-less efforts & the sacrifice to keep others happy.
A Servant Leadership, on the other hand, calls for a greater energy & motivation to drive the team of committed volunteers to work on specific tasks with consistency.
One misunderstanding about servant leadership limiting success has to do with the amount of extra time it takes. While it might seem like extra time, I think the investments will produce better results – both relationally and in/with the work product in the end
I find that the communication piece is often the critical factor in servant leadership. In many of the churches I serve, I find that many of their challenges are the result of poor communication. In those churches that have very low trust of their leadership, I explain that at this point they cannot over-communicate. They must not only explain the “what” they are doing, but also the “why” it is important. Once this is done with integrity, over time, trust begins to return. Great article as always.
…great reminders that servant leadership is about enabling and empowering people so they can better make their contribution — not doing it for them.
I think the point of having big aspirations for the team versus for oneself is key. If you have that others before self mindset, the right opportunities for yourself come as well.
Servant leadership builds trust. Employees who know you “have their back” and provide tools & skills for them to be successful will always be part of a winning team.
Often the results is all one sees, we need to look at all angles to achieve the desired results. Things can be missed and that is were the team comes into play to achieve the best results!
#5 in her reflection points is a key point for me, as a servant leader, you need to empower others, listen to others and reflect on all before making decisions.
Excellent post; servant leadership is often misunderstood and the points you bring out need be taught because I’ve seen leaders who have the opposite approach. They jump in and become busy bodies helping with this and that but their people never grow. They believe they are serving which is true they are but they’re not necessarily serving the people how they need to be served.
For me the most important thing of being a leader is to be a servant. We don’t become leaders to be served but to serve and see other grow.
I really like the point that “In organizational life, the goal of serving isn’t just service, it’s results.” At the end of the day performance matters. The servant leader understands that it is possible to get there, and I would say the better way to get there in the short and long terms by serving.
Transparency seems to be a key to servant leadership. I have witnessed individuals utilize information as power when there was no need. Including others and REALLY listening to their thoughts and values provides us with the opportunity to learn from others.
FYI, Cheryl is with Popeyes. There are several typos in the article above (Popyes and Popeys.) You may want to correct. Thanks! 🙂
This post .. speaks volumes for new Managers, within the market place I work coaching is a must and being a servant leader will only build my team to be the best of the best.
I’ve found myself in recent months treading water in this area. I’ve struggled how to take the overall vision and goals of my agency and apply them to my center. It has resulted in a feeling of floating for not only me but more distressing for my staff. It’s difficult to serve and lead when your not sure where you are heading. One area I would like to focus more on is committing and keeping sacred time for coaching.
Service is what we do everyday. I must admit that when I read your post I translate it how close it is to the way of my faith. Do unto others as others do unto you. You do great service not just to leaders as well as on ordinary life. Thank you for your wisdom.
I love this conversation! It’s interesting to see it in practice. You can always tell when you are working with someone who has big ambitions for themselves versus the people on their team! I love serving others and would love read this book!
Leading by example is one way I’ve tried to serve. Modeling positive behaviors for the students I lead helps them see that one can be generous with time and knowledge without doing the work for others. I do sometimes fall into a trap wanting to be helpful and later realizing I was manipulated, but those experiences are learning moments for me and those I lead.
For me, learning & applying the skill of delegation has helped me work on overcoming the bad habit of encouraging helplessness by doing someone’s job for them. I have had to really work on the three major aspects of delegation:
1. Assigning a doable, yet challenging task.
2. Consistent F/U (at least weekly to start with) using active/engaged listening.
3. Letting them come up with multiple solutions when a roadblock comes up.
As always, thanks for sharing another helpful blog. Everyone have a great weekend.
The comments on “enabling helplessness” were thought provoking. To lead the team, a good leader has to be willing to make the tough decisions when necessary.
Good morning Dan;
‘True’ Leadership require’s we put the needs and concerns of others and our organizations first. You can call this style of Leadership Character-Based or Asset Based, truth is you can call it what you want. But if you want the best from your organization, your teams, & your people, there is a way, but only one way and that’s making a personal commitment to PUT PEOPLE FIRST, (PERIOD).
Organizational failure, and Organizational success is more often than not determined by the quality of the relationships you build among your people. Start by choosing quality people, train them right get to know individuals skills and special talents, now you can place your people into the rite job-fit. Empower them with an acceptable level of decision making authority.
It’s about Trust and Integrity, it’s about honoring that which is right even even in the face of negative consequences.
Positive Character traits, and a reverence & respect for strong moral values while putting others first.
I don’t know about you Dan, but anytime I’ve had the pleasure of working under these conditions, it makes we wonder how employee’s tolerate any other style of Leadership.
The first aha moment in becoming a leader or manager (and those aren’t the same thing) is realizing that you can’t get the job done by yourself. Then understanding that the best use of your time is to create the conditions under which the team can succeed. In reality, especially in the DC area, a lot of this is hampered by the inability to implement the very key point lurking in the middle of the list: getting rid of those who are and will always be unable to pull their weight.
Good afternoon Doug;
Interesting point to add to today’s discussion Doug. (Addressing ‘Dead-Weight’ employee’s) When engaged in humility and genuine concern, most will pick-up their game when encouraged or coached by a leader they respect. “Most of the time”, unfortunately some never get it and remain distant and disconnected from your team. Unions and the such often make removal or termination impossible. At these times I simply place the individual in a position where their ‘lackluster’ performance & poor work ethic won’t hinder or sidetrack from mission/vision.
N O T A L W A Y S E A S Y . . .
I have listened to a podcast where Cheryl was being interviewed and had to listen to it again because there was so much good stuff!
I have struggled with the concept of healthy servitude all my career. My problem has been the attitude that serving others entitles me to their automatic alignment with my goals. The second struggle is feeling that some people I serve view me as a door mat. striking a balance between manipulating people and allowing yourself to be abused by people is an acquired skill.
Good thoughts on creating a healthy servant culture.
On my opinion being a servant leader doesn’t mean do the work for your co-workers, but having the ability and will to roll op your sleeves and work shoulder-to-shoulder when needed, actually pulling the rope together, not just giving directions on how to do it.
CEO Bachelder appears to have written a gem of a book indeed! You can spot great stuff when it converges with other great thinkers. For example, her reflection point #6 appears to align with Jim Collins’ BHAG. –That’s pretty solid company.
I agree with Dan re: martyrdom. I have worked with a handful of executives over the years who have used the “servant leadership” concept as a cover to allow strong-willed employees to walk all over them (and others) in public – with terrible business and personal results. I have found that the real measure of servant leadership lies in the ability to honestly listen and empathize with each team member while not surrendering the ultimate accountability for shared results.
Most people tend to take servant leaders as easily manipulated. They mistake humbleness and humility of such leaders as being weak – and always think that they can easily manipulate them for their selfish gains. In the your post lies many solutions to this servant leadership “dilema”. Thank you
Right on target…particularly #7!
I appreciate the focus on communication and working together towards a common goal while serving others but at the same time recognizing that just because someone is currently part of the team doesn’t mean they have to remain if they aren’t aligned.
Working within medicine embodies servant leadership; we serve our patients, our colleagues, and our peers within our specialties. Everyday we work within our own teams and with other teams at the institution to honor the needs of the patient. The aspiring intent to discover novel techniques which will provide hope and desire to those we serve and ultimately can be shared out to others in these roles.
Thank you for this post, I will be checking this book out!
I’m allowing myself to be manipulated into making a comment just to be eligible for the book giveaway. Just kidding about the manipulation, of course, but I do want the book!
Love this post!. I really love the title, as many people like to manage with fear & control and feel anyone that is a servant leader is weak. Those that use the fear & control method make it all about them and those that serve make it about the people they serve.
Dan reading your blog post is part of my daily morning routine. In more than one occasion you have written on a topic that is the answer to my prayers. This article being one of those ‘hits the spot’ kind of a message. Your contributions to my personal growth and my growth in relationship to others are innumerable. In the article this line, “Serve those who pull the rope with you. Service that prolongs helplessness isn’t servant leadership.” is what I have been struggling with, now to work with those pulling with me! Have a blessed day!
I couldn’t agree more about not doing things for them. Being a bit of a controller, I always have to work hard on not doing it for people and have to watch my narcissistic beliefs that I can do it faster and or better, or it’s not worth the extra time or possible mistakes. The process of growth for both the leader and the teammate is an important facet of this.
Thanks Brenda. Take from a pro. There’s no such thing as a bit of a controller. 🙂 … I just had to poke you on that one, in fun of course.
Thank you for the book rec! Just added to my wishlist. I am curious if there is any example of a “development plan” structure out there – I’d like to build out a template for our team but I am not quite sure where to begin…
I really like #7 – it’s always good for me to be reminded that a servant leader doesn’t do the job for people but enables them to serve by putting them in positions to feel needed and useful. I am often guilty of allowing others to let me just do it instead of taking the time to find meaningful ways to involve them in the task. Intentionally making it about the people not the job by paying attention to their needs and utilizing the strengths of others is the secret to success. The job will get done the right way if you take care of and involve the people.
I build very large complex buildings/structures, but I don’t. What I really provide is a service, aka “serve”.
The correlation to this article applies to any industry or function, be it manufacturing, construction, software, accounting to fastfood. As I explain to my team, yes we build brick and mortar buildings as they say in the industry, but many do. What separates us from our competitors? It is how we “serve” our clients in providing that product.
Humility, grace, critique to detail, demand of excellence in ourselves exceeding our clients expectations, not requirements, but expectations for those usually are superior to the requirements stipulated. All equate to Serving. Now go and apply that to your work and personal life. You’ll be amazed at what a magnet attractant it becomes- and you get that gift of that gift you gave to others as well
Great guidance and reflection! This is soooo right-on. I will relish Bachelder’s book…as I continue savoring Popeyes chicken (my fav for 15 years). Thanks for pointing the way to this one, Dan!
Thanks for yet another pearl of wisdom which will make not only our workplaces a better place but also our world!! would love to learn more.
Listening is the easiest and hardest thing to do. When you stop, relax and become open to truly hear what people are saying (and the ways they are saying it) it is easy to connect and see what is real. However, it is hard to be intentional, make the time and shut off the dozens of other things you could be doing.
I don’t always mind being walked on: sometimes people have to step over you to get where you want them to be. Remember, there’s more than one thing that gets walked on. I’m not a doormat – I’m a bridge!
Huge misconception that I am glad someone recognizes. Being a servant leader doesn’t mean being a doormat. It means being courageous enough to lead, teach, mentor, counsel and assist in a 360 degree way. Servant leadership is about putting others needs ahead of your own, but those needs are on par to the mission you all strive to achieve.
I was introduced to the concept of Servant Leadership as I was leaving the workforce for a time to be a stay-at-home-parent. I wanted to be much less authoritarian than my parents were, yet be effective at helping my kids develop and take on more responsibility as they grew. When I was right there with them modeling the behavior I wanted them to adopt, they seemed more responsive and willing to do what I asked of them. I heard the phrase “‘discipline’ means to teach” and I think teaching is at the heart of the Servant Leadership style. After much volunteer work and rejoining the workforce I have found that the leadership skills I developed in parenting are useful in mentoring and leading in organizations and on the job as well.
I appreciate that the accountability goes both ways.
Thanks for a great post Dan! I struggle with the idea of managing results along with employee relationships. Servant leadership assumes managers have a relationship with employees so they can serve well. That takes time to develop to the point where you see results. This gives me a lot to think about.
I once heard four leadership principles that changed my personal and professional life: grow where you are planted, check your moral compass frequently, make decisions, and take care of those in your charge. I see “servant leadership” as a description for those four principles. I loved your assertion and article titled, “servant leaders aren’t doormats,” and would very much like to have a copy of the book, “Dare to Serve: How to Drive Superior Results by Serving Others,” by Cheryl Bachelder
As my husband and I raised our4 children we had servant days at home…where each of us tried to “outserve” the other others. When you spend you time looking for ways to do things for others we found that we created a team feeling as each person had the others best interest at the heart of their service. It helped to realign our focus on being committted to each other. I have also seen this work with teams of FFA officers as I teach high school agriculture.
Manipulation leads to minimal standard compliance and a toxic environment. This rings true in every type of relationship.
I always enjoy your posts, Dan! You couldn’t be more right that managers have a responsibility to make their endeavors productive and profitable. When did serving to the point of “giving away everything” become noble? Profitable companies are far more able to support altruistic endeavors that are those who don’t make it.
All great comments.The part about manipulation being the result of lack of clear communication is also a valuable nugget.
Perfect post for Holy Thursday, as many of us contemplate the nature of servant leadership and how to incorporate this into the way we live our lives. Taking care of employees is an essential ingredient for creating happy employees – and happy customers. I’m glad this is a conversation that continues to take place in business circles. And certainly, there’s nothing that says care and humility have preclude clarity or firmness. Communicating clearly is one of the best ways to serve others.
There shouldn’t be any other kind of leadership but servant leadership!
This applies universally to both paying jobs and volunteer work. Team leaders supposedly have very clear and transparent goals in both situations, but it’s often more of a problem where hierarchy and personal ego overcomes a true servant leader attitude. Successful leaders care more about the success of the people on the team than about their own supposed stature. A leader has only two things: a team and a task. If the task gets done but the team falls apart, they’ve failed as leaders. It’s only if the task gets done and the team succeeds together that they can claim the title of Servant Leader.
All of this ties in to leadership as a practice to be reflected upon and improved upon, as we would with any practice. No relationship is built once and set on autopilot.
Love the statement “Do you have big aspirations for yourself or big aspirations for the people on your team”! So easy to get self focused and we need to remind ourselves daily that we are there for them, they are not there for us!
As a leader I attempt to be daily focused on serving the needs of the entire team….some days this means activities focus on the needs of the department, other days it is the needs of the students, the team, the university – and the overarching focus us that we serve, strive and struggle to succeed together.
Right on point Dan. The balance of serving and not enabling by doing too much for team members is critical and the most challenging. When done right it can produce amazing results!
Absolutely essential principles for church ministry. I was especially challenged by this point – “Deal with miscommunication, misunderstanding, and confusion quickly. Hiding from tough issues always results in manipulation.”
I would love to win this book! 🙂
This is timely with Good Friday tomorrow and Easter this Sunday. The concept of servant leadership was first associated with Jesus. Obviously it’s a bit different in current times and the contemporary world but certain tenets are timeless; respecting others, helping others, etc. One thing I think is most misunderstood about servant leadership is kindness being confused with weakness. This is definitely not the case and I would love to read this book on this topic to learn more about it!
Another great post. Thanks for sharing daily Good Stuff for all of us striving to increasingly move past merely accomplishing our own goals to passionately enhancing and enabling those we serve to grow and flourish!! I’ve been sharing your blog with students at Concordia Seminary and my staff and leaders at the church I serve as Sr Pastor. Thanks for coaching the coaches!!
Clearly need to be transparent with goals. I’d go further: even if the servant leader starts with a first draft OR final version of those goals, the servant leader will be well served by opening those goals (or the full development of the goals) to honest discussion with team members. Accepting that these employees will be better motivated understanding the goals, the subsequent planning and implementation will go much more smoothly.
Life is not easy, but it is simple. (This is biblical) Leadership is not easy, but it can be made simple. Unfortunately, man complicates both…in terms of thought, action,
assessment and judgment.
For example, servant leadership: It’s a call for a HIGH CONSIDERATION FACTOR. What both our staff and consumers want is simple goodness, kindness, respect, and to be given what they are sold and promised. And our staff members need the right to work creatively, perform and achieve (what they are promised).
Simple happiness is the secret motive of all we do and of all we are willing to endure.
And happiness comes from fulfilling work, achievement, professional approbation, and ultimately a sense of HIGH CONSIDERATION—when we “feel felt,” and when we make others “feel felt.”
It’s as simple as this: If we exhibit goodness and kindness, we are HIGH. If we do not, we are LOW.
What does HIGH CONSIDERATION have to do with our happiness, personal fulfillment and professional success? No matter how bad things get, HIGH persons will always show goodness and kindness, and thus they learn to handle things–especially life, living, being, and doing. A sense of satisfaction and peace is their reward–even though they do it without the “thought” of reward. They also gain a wonderful sense of humility–which does not mean they think less of themselves, rather they think of themselves less. These are leadership and success qualities.
Lastly, when persons are of HIGH CONSIDERATION, they know who they are, respect who they are, and are proud from whence they came. To be a “good person” is the highest accolade that can bestowed on any of us. That’s both fulfillment and success.
Good information and good reminder on the balance of servant leadership when executed well.
Good morning Books
I appreciate your thoughts and insights Books and today is no exception. “Very thought provoking.”
GREAT reflection points! I couldn’t zip through them…definitely caused me to stop and think and evaluate. AND they are challenging me to look at some things I hadn’t. Thank you!
This is a great post. My leadership style is to support my team to reach their goals and it is interesting to see how people respond to that depending on the work style of their past supervisors. Some embrace it and others look at me and say “just tell me what to do.” I really like working with those “latter” employees because over time they learn that they have the answers within them and it builds their confidence. Where I have been struggling is “developing a specific and thoughtful development plan for each of my team members.” Unfortunately this is something I need to learn more about to implement, and it seems always to fall to the bottom of my priority list. I plan on looking at the book you posted in a comment above called “Coaching for Engagement.” Thanks for a great reflective topic!
Dan, I work in the public sector so by definition I am hired to be a public “servant.” Often the public interpets that to mean I serve at their leisure and should always do what they want. What I try to offer in return is that it is my role to serve as a steward of the resources they put under my care to provide exceptional experineces for all our residents. I love that I have this responsbility and am honored to have a role that includes the word servant. Beyond that, so glad to see definitions of what servant leadership is. So many of my young staff belive that is what they are and use as justiifcation to be “behind the scenes.” Not completely wrong but flies in opposition to the leader role. To lead there are times when you have to be in front modeling the way, for the young leader this brings fear and anxiety. You have introduced words like courage and humility into my leadership vocabulary. I teach them often and that is the model/culture I am trying to build. The challenge in coaching any young leader is to get them to the point where they know who they are and have confidence to the point they will stand on it, regardless of the circumstance. Having a leadership focus built on serving others to move your organizastion forward was epitomized by the likes of George Washington, Martin Luther King Jr. and many others – early on my young leaders see the risk and don’t yet trust they have the courage to see it through.
The Greatest Leader of all times, Said if you want to be great in God’s kingdom, you must be the servant of all!”
His leadership Provided a way for all of us! We celebrate that Leadership this weekend!
Thank you My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
Helpful insights, I enjoy your reflections on leadership issues and am interested in learning more about Cheryl’s ideas and what has worked for her. Thank you.
Some of the advice given operates under an assumption of shared values, empowerment and emotional maturity. The most important of these being shared values. Servitude leadership as described is more challenging for middle an lower management folks who may not have an emotionally mature relationship with upper management. The act of exposing objectives that may conflict with others may only serve to paint the mid-level manager as a problem to weak or immature leaders higher in the food chain. When others begin to perceive the outcome in win-lose terms being clear about your objectives may not be advisable unless you can adjust and evolve those objectives.
Singing like no one is watching might be quite satisfying until you realize the cage you are in is filled with sleeping tigers and you are on the opposite side from the exit.
I believe strongly in being a servant leader. To me, this means many things, but mainly it is about doing what is best for kids. By always working in the best interest of kids we keep our “eye on the ball” and are doing things for the right reasons. If we can work WITH our students, parents, teachers, and teams to accomplish a common goal, we can act and lead as servant leaders.
I think that addressing miscommunication quickly is often hampered by low energy – low in the sense that it’s expensive in terms of time and mental energy to straighten things out. But once we start procrastinating things can get quickly out of control.
Love the topic of servant leadership. I’ve been trying to convince others of this mindset, and they always think it means “servitude”, or is beneath them. I try to remind myself to constantly be humble, but have fun at the same time. Thanks for the continued insights Dan.
Servitude Leadership goes with out saying. Being there to serve your team’s success will always bring growth and development. The trick I have always found is how to encourage honest and candid conversations on a 360 degree path to make sure everyone is moving in the right direction. Great share!!!
Since I received a promotion to the management team just yesterday, this book would be very helpful!
We are working very hard at fostering the culture of servant leadership. But, one of your key questions is one of our hurdles which is in reference to one of the misunderstandings of servant leadership. One of our biggest misunderstandings is that if you have to make a difficult business decision which includes someone leaving the company by company choice, you are not being a servant leader. They have a large challenge of being able to balance servant leadership and difficult business decisions. We are working through in baby steps the past two years. I heard her webinar and was very intrigue with Cheryl.
I think the concept of servant leadership/teamwork can apply to my teaching and classes. I have been searching for ways to help my students become more involved in their learning – taking ownership of their learning so they WANT to learn. I think I can adapt the language to serve our learning. Thanks Dan and Cheryl.
Not to get too far off topic, but I’m surprised nobody mention Popeyes in here at all. I just gotta say I am a fan of their Louisiana Kitchen style chicken, beans, and biscuits. Also kudos on Cheryl for helping Popeyes increase stock prices over 300% in her time there. She’s certainly doing something right.
I have written this exact sentiment on a post-it note to remind myself as a leader that I am there to serve others.
Servant Leadership … the topic of conversation today with the John Maxwell team. Which is who we are in ministry
One of the principles shared by Cheryl that resonates most with me is the fact that a focus on results should be EVERY DAY, not just once a year. I think that focus combined with the servant leadership is a powerful combination.
Servant leaders focus on Magnifing strengths on others to maximize results no so much their weakness, their weakness require in the moment coaching.
Communication, collaboration and listening making sure all are on the same page. Giving feedback when required and even when it is not to make staff feel appreciated and wanting to work for you.
“4.Realign or remove people who pull the rope sideways. Servant leadership includes sacrifice, but isn’t martyrdom.”
This is a difficult step for me. I have always been a peace maker and I try to avoid confrontation at all costs. But I am in a new position as a Director of a homeless shelter. I am part of a small staff and one of the three who serve with me seems to keep pulling sideways.
I am not sure realignment will work it seems to be making some of the sideways pulling be more “underground.” I have tried other ways– ignoring issues, sweeping them under the rug, shake it off etc.- in other settings and found they only led to more difficulty.
I believe that even if I should have to deal with the side winder for removal that this can be an opportunity to serve and not just discipline. I am not sure how this will look but Father does and He is able to give me understanding and wise counsel.
serving others prepares one to lead others. Talk to people in a manner that you would want to be spoken too. Honesty and integrity works both ways. Coaching and engagement very important as a servant and leader.
A former colleague used to use the fisherman as an example – you can give the people on your team a fish each day to keep them alive or you can teach them to fish and enable each of them to provide for their own needs.
Wow, I really resonate with the thinking here!
I’m going to print this for my office as a daily reminder for myself!
So powerful (and I love the reflection questions).
I am always on the lookout for good books to help me in my teaching…
Isn’t serving the way to success? Without serving your customers, your team and your organisational goals aren’t you doomed to failure?
“The goal of service isn’t just service – it results”….As a director of a Christian camp for 30 year… this has been my mantra… my driving force… and it works every time with every staff member!
Seems really interesting! Would love to read more. Thanks for sharing!
Getting the team to believe that you are really looking to further their interests is the toughest thing to do. In other words, building trust! And there are no shortcuts for that it has to be consistency in talk and action over a sustained period of time
It seems clear that empowering your team makes you the stronger leader
I am a new Supervisor at my place of employment and I would like to say thank you for your encouraging words. One of my goals as supervisor is to empower my staff; however, I did fall victim to circumstances I created by NOT confronting Miscommunication and Misunderstanding. As a situation developed, my thought process was, “I will let them work it out as I am giving them space to grow.” Because I did not engage, the situation only worsened and I found myself asking questions like, “How do I get out of this?” These types of questions only lead to manipulation in order to cover my own ____. Thankfully I have a great supervisor myself who gave me great advice and as I intervened, it was well received and I realized that my intervention actually brought stress relief for all parties involved. Although I hope to seek to humble myself rather than be humbled, I learned a valuable lesson.
Thank you so much for this….
Servant Leadership is very important to me and the organization I represent.
We rely heavily on our volunteer force. Serving alongside of the Volunteer army increases results & lead the way.
Familiarity is the silent killer of success with servant leadership.
Thanks for the great post, Dan! I couldn’t agree more. Servant leadership is a complex but necessary part of leadership. It’s important for leaders to be able to relate to their staff members. This can only be accomplished by training with them, talking with them, learning with them and sharing ideas. Transparency is an integral part of leading. If we aren’t transparent with our staff, they will not trust us. Additionally, we need to consider ourselves as teammates rather than management. We must be willing to roll our sleeves up and join them in the work and tasks at hand. At the end of the day, we are all in it together!
Servant Leadership REQUIRES Genuine Listening. It is THE prerequisite for success. In fact, if any leader is not genuinely listening at any point in a conversation, then s/he is simply working off their own agenda…and will end up being isolated from those around him/her.
Explain what goal/end-result is to ALL members involved. Suggest ways of how to meet goals or achieve the end result. Conduct status checks along the way, without micromanaging or being overburden. When team members come to you with questions or suggestion, run through a PRO/CON list – showcase the benefits as well as the challenges publicly. Gets everyone thinking and moving forward.
Always an inspiration. Thank for influencing me to rethink how I manage my business.
The fundamental aim for any organisation, any sector, should be to create a culture where people are inspired & enabled go deliver continually improving quality outcomes. This is dependant on the style & calibre of its leaders. I completely agree with how servant L’ship is defined here, and that in no way does this mean you are a pushover or a doormat. Being so does it serve anyone. True servant l’ship requires honesty, courage, compassion , resilience and tenacity. My work is to support public service organisations in thier development to take a whole system approach to provision of integrated care, working in true partnership to serve each other in order to serve the people who use our services and our communities. Impossible without vales led #Servant leadership !!!!
Shared values and transparent goals are essential to being successful with any of the other aspects of this list. We shouldn’t/can’t be afraid to repeatedly beat upon the drum of shared values.
“Realign or remove people who pull the rope sideways.”
Was just discussing this with my staff yesterday. Sometimes no matter how much vision you share and no matter how much you serve those under your leadership there are times that you must remove obstacles to the mission. Some find this to be more difficult in the church setting I work in, but I’m constantly reminded that no one person is more important than the mission.
I love #1 – it is oh so difficult to get anything done when the goal to be reached is only known by one. I have watched this bring down so many teams when the leader “thought” that everyone knew the goal and the strategy. A clear goal and asking your team for their interpretation of it leads to less miscommunication and crystal clear direction – easy to lead a team that knows where they are going.
I like the quote from the movie the Count of Monte Christo. In it the servants says to Edmund Dantes, “I swore to protect you, even if that means protecting you from yourself.” I know a servant leader has to lead but sometimes that means leading to what is best even if it’s not accepted at first.
Interesting thought, Dan Greegor. While I agree that leading means leading to what is best even if it is not accepted at first–as you stated–and this ties into the concept of being transparent with goals, I am not sure that leading without getting converts and believers to the goal is what servant leadership means. I see the core of servant leadership is developing individuals and teams.
“Servant leadership includes sacrifice, but isn’t martyrdom.” really struck a chord with me. As a servant leader you must let your team determine a path to success even if it isn’t the one you would’ve chosen. You need to keep your ego in check, else your not serving the team.
Our standard of excellence is personal for the month of April. This book would help me with reaching some personal goals! 🙂
Servant leadership is not easy specially if you have big ego or pride. That is when you begin to think that if you become understanding that means you are weak or a doormat. Servant leadership is about enabling your team members so they can excel and accomplish the goals of the organization.
Long time reader, first time posting. This is my favorite leadership blog and one of my overall favorites. The idea of servanthood is paramount to being a successful leader, learning through Dr. Maxwell, Dr. Elmore, and hundreds of others. To add value and lead is to serve and this author hits the nail on the head!
This is such a tough balancing act to make. But when I’m proud of one of my team, that’s a wonderful feeling. It doesn’t matter that I didn’t accomplish the goal myself. I’m their coach, and I’m proud of their achievement!
Your posts always hit the mark, thanks for all you provide,
My boss is using this method and is teaching me to implement this as well.
Great questions – I’m continually looking for opportunities to reinforce Servant Leadership, one of our organizations Core Values, and appreciate the questions asked by the author; especially around driving results for the organization. I think one of the misunderstandings about servant leadership is the results that can, and should, be accomplished. One of the keys, that I’ve learned over the years, is leveraging individuals strengths to the benefit of the organization.
Avoiding victim mindset… huge!
Realign or remove people who pull the rope sideways. … very much agree. How do you best attempt to realign when you do not have the legitimate power to remove?
Servant leadership isn’t about handing others the keys and letting them figure things out for themselves. A lot of it has to do with others discovering things but the “servant” part includes not only aiming them in the right direction but providing them the tools – and more importantly, the reason – for what you want to accomplish.
I like the imagery about realigning people who pull the rope sideways. These people may be eager to pull and may do a great job of adding muscle, but they need to pull the right way in order to keep the entire ship on course. A servant leader helps them understand not only which way to pull, but why.
great content, practitioners could use these findings. thanks for sharing
Thanks once again for another great post. Helping our work team mates, our spouse and children be formed and encouraged to hold us accountable is a wonderful way for all of us to keep on growing into being the best we can be and for our relationship to grow and deepen. I love having my children grow up to be ready and able to coach me.
Servant leaders are not doormats, we’re choosing to grow relationships and treat others with respect at all times, whether we win the job or not.
It’s sad that the term “serve” in our western culture has an implied meaning of subservience. And because of the importance we place on status, many miss out on the greatest secret to living a fulfilling meaningful work life. It isn’t the job that defines the opportunity for a fulfilling work life. It is the focus and mindset filters used to interacts with others that defines it.
It took me far too many years (and too many emotionally trying situations) before I came to appreciate just what it meant to “be of service” and I love the fact we now have people like you, Dan and authors like Cheryl who are doing everything possible to help fast track people’s understanding of this powerful secret.
It really is the winning way for all!
Excellent post … one key takeaway do not serve others without a goal,
rather serve them because of having that goal or common future outcome.
Love reading about servant leadership and would love to see more ideas on getting the entire organization into the act of servant leadership. How is it best handled when those above are not modeling?
Couldn’t agree more with the manipulative area that was covered. You don’t want to sound so demanding to your employees and give off that vibe that you are in control of them but let them have the sense you are there to help with any concerns.
Communication is key. You team of admin must share the same message as you as well as your teacher leaders for success to happen. If not, then you must re-communicate everything again.
I am so inspired my your tweets! It is such a great reminder that servant leadership is needed in this world!
I am the sponsor of RCHS Ineteract Club so this book would not only help me but also our young adult leaders. I would hope they could see that leadership is not a popularity contest. It is partly being someone with morals that you can be an equal with not a follower. Working together in a common goal.
Great thread. I would add that a service oriented leader creates for the future and not just immediate results.
Servant leaders see the possibilities in people, teams, and organizations. They plant seeds and tend to them quietly until they are strong enough to thrive.
The other thing that I would add is that the quick response or resolution of issues more frequently mediation rather direction unless there is a threat to the organization’s mission and vision. The focus is building genuine relationships and not just surface compliance.
This sums it up quite well.
“Servant leadership includes sacrifice, but isn’t martyrdom.”
The courage & willingness to say “NO!” to those your work with, in order to give them and yourself the opportunity to say “YES!” later, that is servant leadership in a nutshell. 🙂
Thank you so much for the information. I am excited to share this and make more leaders who follow this.
i think one thing we need to avoid as servant leaders is the notion we have to always be people pleasers, just because one or two vocal people may not like an idea or plan don’t placate to the two too sacrifice the many who like the plan
Selflessness, sacrifice, and service. Remember these in marriage, work, and life.
But what to do when the leader has a victim mindset? Would love this book
Sounds like a spectacular read!
Great information for everyone, but especially emerging leaders and their supervisors. Inspiring post. Thanks.
Would love to win this book. I have folks advise me all the time not to be “too nice.”
Awesome book on leadership i would love to read
Thanks for the awesome content you continually provide! Happy Easter!
Coaching routine? Thought provoking to say the least. Probably one of the foundational misses for new leaders who want to serve others. Great way to start- plan and organize your thoughts to help bring out the best in others.
would love to hear more. This is awesome! We need this book!
Servant leadership serves values rather than stake-holders. As the head of a secondary school in Cape Town, South Africa, we serve the best interests of the learners, the government curriculum requirements – national and provincial, the School Board, the parents, funders and donors, the academic staff and the support staff. The image of pulling the rope – serving the values inherent in the vision and mission for the school – is compelling. Your other vital comment is to avoid developing helplessness – in staff and learners! Thanks for the insights.
This is very timely for me. I am working on putting together an eBook on leadership and one of my sections was on servant leadership. I think the headline you have really captures a misconception about servant leadership. Many people have beliefs about leadership that are misguided or incorrect. Thanks for sharing Dan!
This, like all of the posts and the conversations here, are a daily source of inspiration.
However, should we be thinking that ALL of the team members should practice these principles and be asking themselves these questions. Leadership should not be abdicated to the titular leaders, in my opinion.
Love the quotable quotes!
Great read on Servant leadership. One thing I learned from my wife’s first OBGYN when we were expecting our first child was this: At the end of each appointment, he would pause and sincerely ask, “what else can I tell you.” He did this in his comforting southern draw and it became a mantra in my mind when I would meet with anyone. I would end our time together by asking, “What can I do for you?” Thank you for this great article.
We can work for our associates and still manage our business, it makes the lives of many much more enjoyable
A servant leader puts the needs of others before him or herself. A servant leader gets their team members to believe that they are working towards something bigger than themselves. They/we need to go beyond our comfort zone if we are to accomplish our goals.