As we approached Fort Benning, a lone soldier stood guard. He asked for identification and seeing that my daughter is the wife of a soldier ; he said welcome home. As we toured the base, from the Infantry Museum, to the barracks and in conversation I felt a strong presence of Servant Leadership, in part because our needs were served first. As we left I looked back at the entrance sign and it said; “Home to Soldiers, Families and Leaders of the World’s Best Army!” This is authentic Servant Leadership.
While out for a morning walk I was thinking about Servant Leadership, you see for me it’s a conscious thing.
The foundation of this philosophy is wanting to serve; first. But whom am I really serving and more importantly why?
When I talk to groups one of the components we have a conversation about of this amazing leadership style is its sustainability. For some it’s the golden rule and for others it can go deeper, your choice. Wanting to have this great feeling every day by helping others, be it a genuine smile, opening a door, paying it forward or making a lasting difference in someone’s life; they remember as do you, and this naturally makes you want to do it again.
The next day I felt a little empty yearning to duplicate the day before but it was gone; or was it? I prayed to the Holy Spirit and it came rushing back. I asked someone to lunch, brought my wife a book she forgot at home and helped a student connect with a local company for a possible job. I did it again!
What was the aha? Picture a triangle, with one side being the Holy Spirit, one side others, and one side you. By serving the first you serve others, and by doing that your needs are met.
I can’t wait to do it again! What sustains your day?
When Lincoln was angry with his generals he would write a letter about how he felt, seal it, and put it in his pocket. The next day he would open the letter and see if he felt the same way. If so it was delivered, if not it was destroyed.
So what does hearing Gods voice, followed by a sermon, then discovering a need, reding a scripture and bearing bells have to do with entrepreneurship? …
Business school leadership courses teach the six leadership styles: Visionary, Coaching, Affiliative, Democratic, Pacesetting and Commanding. This has been the norm ever since Daniel Goleman (widely known as the father of Emotional Intelligence) published these six traits in his bestseller, “Primal Leadership”.
Let’s take a closer look at the six:
- Visionary-sees the big picture (positive)
- Coaching-helps people reach their goals (positive)
- Affiliative-a connector of people (positive)
- Democratic-works with people sharing value and input (positive)
- Pacesetting-hits the ground running with or without input from others (negative)
- Commanding-gives clear directions and can abuse power (negative)
I would like to add a seventh style: Servant Leadership. This trait was coined by Robert Greenleaf in 1970 and is generally discussed outside of the six, if at all. Simply put; “Great Leaders are Servants first.” – Robert Greenleaf.
Let’s take a closer look at the plus1:
- Making things happen; all the time (positive)
- Empowering followers (positive)
- Focus on work, not credit (positive)
- It allows you to relate to others through empathy, open communication and new ideas (positive)
- Being acutely aware, the impact is amazing (positive)
- Following up “staying connected” (positive)
Although the six can crossover into Servant Leadership, in my experience teaching leadership, speaking before groups and in talking with leaders from a variety of backgrounds, there seems to be universal agreement among those who practice this philosophy that it is the best way to lead.
Tony Mann is Faculty Lecturer of Graduate Business and holds an MBA from Aurora University. He also speaks to a variety of groups on the topic of Servant Leadership for business and self (www.myservefirst.com) and can be contacted at Aurora University (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Three guys on a corner with nowhere to go. Hey, here are two McDonalds cards, enjoy. Thanks buddy and God bless, but why are you doing this? Because it just feels good. Servant Leadership is a natural feeling of wanting to serve, to serve first. I can taste the fries!