Champions of Servant Leadership

As I dug a bit deeper into the SHRM article I referenced last time, I liked how they tied servant leadership back to early Eastern culture citing Laozi, a 5th century Chinese philosopher as suggesting that “when the best leaders finished their work, their people would say ‘we did it ourselves.’” That certainly goes right along with the idea that a genuine servant leader empowers their team to grow, develop, and achieve results without taking all the credit for themselves! One of the best examples I can think of occurred just a few hundred years later, a little bit farther West near the Red Sea, when droves of people came to hear an incredibly influential teacher and he was determined to feed them all before they started their long journeys home.

Both of those examples support what Pat Falotico, former IBM executive and current CEO of Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, said about having a servant leadership mindset, “If you have selfish...

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The Majority are Transactional Overseers?

So now that we’ve established that not everyone defines servant leadership the same way, let’s build a little bit stronger foundation for all that this idea really involves before we start studying some characteristics we can work to incorporate into our own leadership styles or examples we learn from directly. I’ve been a member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) for years and recently found an article on their website called The Art of Servant Leadership. Here’s what jumped off the page at me when I read it for the first time:

Experts often describe the majority of traditional business leaders as managers who mainly function as overseers of a transaction: employees maintain desired performance levels, and in exchange they receive salary and benefits. Generally, these managers are positional leaders—they derive authority simply from the fact that they are the boss.

The servant leader moves beyond the transactional aspects of...

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Defining Servant Leadership

I’ve heard the term servant leadership thrown around for years; I’m guessing you have too… That said, the entire time I’ve been operating under my own idea of what it meant. Truth be told, I certainly didn’t come up with the picture in my head of what servant leadership looks like all by myself. Like anyone else, I’ve pieced that picture together over time based on different ideas I heard or read from various sources as well as from the examples I’ve seen modeled by some of the most influential leaders I’ve had a chance to be around and study.

With all that in mind, let’s take a step back and really dig into what the “experts” suggest servant leadership looks like. An Investopedia article I read recently defined it this way, “Servant leadership is a leadership style and philosophy whereby an individual interacts with others—either in a management or fellow employee capacity—to achieve authority...

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Is the Juice Really Worth the Squeeze?

Once we’ve accepted the reality that ongoing professional development is actually critical to being successful in each new challenge we take on as well as maintaining success in even our current role, and we create clarity around what we need our professional development process to look like, we need to make sure we’re taking advantage of the resources that will serve us best as we chase our goals.

Following strong examples is a great start, and finding the right people to mentor us along the way plays a key role too, but we’ll still need to make sure we’re taking advantage of every other resource we can get our hands on if we truly want to separate ourselves from the pack! So how can we determine which resources will give us the most value? How can we make sure the juice really is worth the squeeze?

The sky's the limit for what we can accomplish, but the one restriction we all have in common is the number of hours we have access to in our day. And...

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Who Keeps You In Line?

That’s an interesting question, huh… Who keeps you in line? If you know me well, you know at least one person who’s done that for me over the last twenty-plus years has been my darling bride! And that’s often been more than a full time job for her… But thankfully, she hasn’t had to do it all on her own the entire time.

In the last post, I shared how important I believe it is for each of us to identify the people around us who can serve as living, breathing professional development examples that we can study to make our own journey smoother and more effective. And while that certainly provides us with a solid starting point as we move into each new role throughout our career progression, simply observing and asking a question here and there won’t likely always be enough to help us really separate ourselves from the masses. That’s where the value of strong mentorship comes into play; more specifically, having access to people who are...

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Professional Development Examples

Leading up to this point, we’ve looked at several answers to Why is Professional Development Important? and we’ve worked through several key things we each need to consider as we set our Professional Development Goals. While that should serve as a reasonable foundation that we can build on as we’re intentional about growing professionally, there’s no reason we should feel like we’re alone in the process! Having strong examples to follow can help the process go much more smoothly…

Let’s face it, no two people will follow the exact same journey when it comes to their professional development. We all have different experiences we’re building on and it’s extremely rare for any of us to have the same long term goals - especially when we’ve invested the time and energy necessary to gain the kind of specificity my friend challenged me to get. But regardless of where we’re coming from or where we’re heading,...

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Not Just Busy; Effective!

Are you busy? That’s a stupid question, huh! We all are… If you’re anything like me, there are times where you feel like there’s just not another second in your day to squeeze in one more thing.

But are you getting the results you’re after? Are you productive?

Let’s be honest with ourselves here, being busy and being effective are two very different things!

Whose face comes to mind when you really consider this? I immediately think of a few different folks I know who constantly seem to be putting out fires but never reach any of the goals they’re working toward. They’re incredibly busy, but it would be a pretty big stretch to describe them as productive…

In complete transparency, I’ve fallen into that scenario myself far more than I care to admit. My DRIVEN approach to nearly everything tends to result in me taking on just about any task that falls within reach and going at it full speed ahead until it’s done or I...

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You Can’t Hit What You Can’t See

I recently challenged you to think about Why is Professional Development Important? then we looked at the importance of intention Professional Development Goals in the last post. But we have to be very honest with ourselves when we’re considering either; we need to have a clear picture of what we’re hoping to achieve or any of the effort we put in will only have a limited impact - at best!

About six years ago, I was on a call with a guy who owns one of the largest landscaping and irrigation companies in South Florida and he was sharing some ideas on how to approach professional development in a way that truly delivered the best possible return on investment. That really got my attention. I had recently accepted a position with a different company after nearly two decades with the same one. I had worked extremely hard in every role I held to that point and I had also invested in nearly every type of professional development resource I could afford (I was paying for almost...

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Professional Development Goals

Through the last few messages, we’ve taken a look at some data answering the question Why is Professional Development Important?... I closed last time by emphasizing that there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach and promised to work through some things each of us need to consider as we’re moving down our own growth path. But before I cover a few examples, let’s be sure we’ve all got the right thought process. Without that, the rest may not even matter…

More than a century ago, James Allen said that “people are anxious to improve their circumstances but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound.” Oh my goodness! What if Mr. Allen was around to see the mess we’re dealing with today… 

All too often, folks want to be respected as a leader before they take full responsibility for leading. But that’s not where it stops! How often have you heard someone say that they’d be...

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What Approach Works Best for YOU?

The vast majority of the work Cindy and I do is focused around developing effective leaders and building effective communication into the cultures of the organizations we work with. But when we’re digging into Why Professional Development is Important, understand that there are so many more things to consider! Don’t get me wrong, I still believe effective communication and leadership are crucial, I’m just saying that there are more things we need to consider than the one-size-fits-all baseball caps I referenced in closing the last post

Several years ago, while working with some of the most experienced team members some friends of mine had working in their company, one gentleman commented, “We’ve done it this way for 30 years. This is the best way it can possibly be done!” Having been involved in so many continuous improvement initiatives over the years, my initial reaction was to jump on the table and preach about all the risks that come...

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