Big Shot, Bureaucrat, or Servant Leader
The way you view yourself sets the trajectory of your leadership.
You might pressure people into conformity, but that never wins hearts. You must choose between short-sighted coercion and servant leadership.
Choose who to be:
- Big shots intimidate. Servant leaders influence.
- Bureaucrats make rules. Servant leaders build relationships.
- Buttinskies love suck ups. Servant leaders seek feedback.
- Top dogs mark their turf. Servant leaders expand their team.
- Control freaks need conformity. Servant leaders invite buy in.
- Bullies instill fear. Servant leaders instill courage.
- Bosses need salutes. Servant leaders pull with.
- Authoritarian leaders beat down. Servant leaders lift.
- Traditional leaders know. Servant leaders learn.
- Superiors have subordinates. Servant leaders have partners.
- Elites love the spotlight. Servant leaders share the spotlight.
- Rooster leaders need privilege. Servant leaders fulfill purpose.
- Chiefs need obedience. Servant leaders invite commitment.
- Egotistical leaders focus on self. Servant leaders turn toward others.
- Head honchos restrict. Servant leaders release.
- Prideful leaders congratulate themselves. Servant leaders applaud others.
- Political leaders manipulate. Servant leaders practice transparency.
- Kingpins punish people. Servant leaders develop people.
- Big wheels bloviate. Servant leaders listen.
- Savior-leaders fix problems. Servant leaders seize opportunities.
The first choice of leadership isn’t what to do. It’s who to be.
Which comparison/contrast speaks loudly to you?
What contrasts do you see between traditional leadership and servant leadership?
What is Servant Leadership (Greenleaf)
10 Principles of Servant Leadership (Kent State)
9 Qualities of the Servant Leader (Skip Prichard)
I think the last comment was the most important: “The first choice of leadership isn’t what to do. It’s who to be.” If we could get all newly promoted management staff, and all new incoming management staff for that matter — we’d probably know who was on the right path to developing themselves and the Agency, and who might be off track. Thanks Dan!
Thanks Mary Ellen. I find that leaders tend to focus on doing stuff and neglect the being stuff. In the end, they lose themselves to work.
Really liked today’s blog. Nice reminder of the type of leader I aim to be every day.
Leadership isn’t a role it’s a choice, and the type of leader you want to be is the second decision you need to make. Many paths exist … choose wisely
Thanks Rob. Often, all we need is a reminder of what we already know. 🙂 Cheers!!
It seems a major difference (from my POV) is that many of the issues that come from traditional leadership could be born out of insecurity. Maybe the need to prove their power, position, or fear that they won’t be good enough. Because of that it could create a silo between the leader and the rest of the team. On the servant leadership side, that leader may better recognize that they don’t have all the answers, that the people they surround themselves with are talented as well, and he/she has to opportunity to partner with them to reach a desired outcome.
Thanks for the post, Dan!
Thanks JD. The word “courage” came to mind. It takes courage to speak your mind, be vulnerable, seek and give feedback, have tough conversations ….
What aspect of leadership doesn’t require courage??!!
Powerful. Thank you, Dan.
An interesting, thought-provoking post! Liked the big list of differentiators while defining Servant Leadership.
Two things are missing! One is the Humility Part and second is Professionalism in execution. I just thought of Our Hon. PM, Shri Narendra Modi and his style of working. He calls himself as Pradhan Sewak [Chief Server] and not as Pradhan Mantri [Prime Minister].
Thanks Dr. Asher. Great additions to the list. BTW, love the idea of Chief Server!! So powerful.
I agree and I see others say they use servant leadership and they have no clue. The hardest part of servant leadership is the thin line of what your employer hired you to do and to protect their interest and you leading by serving. MrunalAsher is right Humility is critical.
Thanks Watl. Serving your employer and doing what you are hired to do can conflict. As you indicate, the best situation is when serving and fulfilling job requirements align with each other.
Thanks for the vote for humility. It’s an important topic to me. I can’t believe I left it off the list.
Thanks Dan for an essential article that defines leadership as service. Difficult to choose the most poignant but I chose #13. “Chiefs need obedience. Servant leaders invite commitment.” The two verbs say it all. As an educator and as a lifelong student my greatest commitments were always to those who invited . Positively, Pauline Duncan-Thrasher
Thanks Dan! Servant Leadership all day… Because, I have nothing to loose since Leadership is a Social experiment :-)..
What a great list of contrasts. Thank you. “Top dogs mark their turf. Servant leaders expand their teams.” That resonates. While I’m conscious of not trying to “mark my turf,” I also need to work on expanding my team. I try to assist coworkers throughout my organization, but I’m not always sure I’m bringing the most value to others. Maybe I’ll ask.
I have been reading “Why David Sometimes Wins” by Marshall Ganz. It is a great book about strategic leadership and how the United Farm Workers successfully improved working conditions for grape farmers where other more powerful unions had failed countless times before. What made this mobilization of workers so successful was the union leadership that was able to veer away from bureaucratic goals and focus on strategy as well as fulfilling the needs of the workers beyond that of monetary gain. When leaders capitalized on the strike being viewed as a civil rights movement not only did that foster nationwide support but it invigorated the membership to be supportive of the cause too. That is why picking (promoting) leaders absent of a bureaucratic process is so crucial. Ganz writes “leaders chosen bureaucratically are more likely to possess skills and motivations compatible with bureaucratic success than with strategic innovation.” And, to achieve strategic success leaders must follow much of the servant leadership philosophy that you have listed in this post.
Buttinskies love suck ups. Servant leaders seek feedback.
Seeking feedback is one that is hard for me to do. It’s something that I know I need to do. It’s hard to step down from that leadership pedestal and look at oneself to see the areas that need to be improved. But I also don’t like those who suck up, so in a way, I try and keep those individuals at bay. Seeking feedback hasn’t been a priority for me, but I’ll take your advice and start out small, seeking that feedback.