Meet Their Needs, Exceed Their Expectations!

Now that we have a solid definition of servant leadership to work from, and we’ve looked at some servant leadership practices that will help us meet the needs of our team members based on their own behavioral style, let’s close the loop with some final thoughts on how we can move this from being just something we do to something each of the leaders on our team will work to do…

As we worked through some of these thoughts recently, I shared a quote with you from The Servant by James Hunter saying that “a leader is someone who recognizes and meets the legitimate needs of their people, and removes all the barriers so they can serve the customer.” If we really want to build servant leadership into the entire culture of our organizations, we certainly need to start with looking at how we can recognize and meet those legitimate needs of the folks we interact with directly but we also need to work to ensure they understand how important it is for them to do the same thing for the team members they’re leading. 

It’s often easy to place our entire focus on the person who’s paying for our product or service, considering them as our primary customer, and pulling out all the stops to provide the best possible service to the ones who pay us the most. Those customers absolutely deserve their needs to be met and their expectations to be exceeded. But we can’t lose sight of our other customers…

When I first started working in a manufacturing facility more than 25 years ago, I ran a stamping press that supplied parts to a few other machines in the same department, which formed the flat blanks I was making into the actual parts that were used on the assembly lines. Initially, I really struggled to understand how what I was doing had any impact at all on the final product the customer bought. I’ll spare you the step by step details, but every single person who had a hand in that entire process impacted what the customer was buying. More importantly, I quickly realized that MY CUSTOMER was the person who was operating the next machine that my parts were going to. If I wasn’t providing that person with a quality product, every other person and process from there on would be impacted.

The exact same thing is true with servant leadership! When we recognize and meet those legitimate needs of our team members, our most direct customers if you will, we provide them with what they need to serve the next customer in line - the individuals they’re responsible for leading. In Know What You’re FOR, Jeff Henderson says that “when you exceed the expectations of your team, they exceed the expectations of the customer.”

If we truly want to build a servant leadership culture throughout our organization, our first step might simply be to start viewing each person who reports directly to us as one of our most loyal customers. As we provide them with authentic servant leadership, we should also be intentional about explaining to them WHY we’ve chosen that approach and that we need them to follow suit with their teams. I’m not suggesting this will transform an entire culture overnight; I’ve rarely seen anything worth having come that easily… But I am suggesting that the effort we put into this will, over time, yield outstanding results!

We’ll dig into a completely different topic next time, likely starting early next week. Until then, don’t miss the chance to hear from Jeff Henderson as one of the speakers we’ll be sharing exclusive content from as part of the 2021 LIVE2LEAD:Harrisonburg Experience on Friday, October 22 at Blue Ridge Community College. Around 65% of the seats are already spoken for. Early Bird registration is currently open through September 30. 

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