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...

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Specific Details and Time to Complete the Task

Having looked ways we can truly serve the needs of our team members with each of the first three behavioral styles - DRIVEN, INSPIRING, and SUPPORTIVE - to this point, let’s close the loop with the final 25% of the population; the ones who tend to be Reserved and Task-Oriented. Please understand that none of these styles should be viewed as better than the others based on the order I’ve covered them in. This group certainly shouldn’t be considered as being in last place! In fact, some of the smartest people we know are likely to have this primary style… These are the CRITICAL thinkers and they’re nearly always very CONSCIENTIOUS about the results they produce.

I was in a client’s office several years ago, getting ready to provide a part of their team with an introductory lesson on The Model of Human Behavior, when one of the management team members had a fairly intense conversation (read: loud argument) with one of the key team members. Since...

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All Work and No Play?

When Cindy and I work with teams on building stronger and more effective communication into their cultures, The Model of Human Behavior is one of the tools we share because it provides a simple and extremely practical approach that can be implemented right away. As we do this, we emphasize that our team members often do the exact same things but for VERY different reasons depending on their own unique behavioral style. Cindy goes on to explain that I, as one of those highly DRIVEN folks I mentioned last time, serve the people I care about by working as hard as I possibly can to achieve results. While my focus is primarily on the task at hand, I’m doing it to provide for my family or my team…

Here’s the thing: I’m in the small minority of the population that actually enjoys working! Accomplishing things and checking tasks off my list fills my tank. And praise God everyone you deal with isn’t like me, right! (For many reasons…) Seriously though,...

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Make Sure Our Help Really Helps...

As we’ve discussed leading up to this point, becoming an effective servant leader certainly involves exemplifying several specific characteristics but even those can be interpreted quite differently depending on the behavioral and communication style of the individual we’re attempting to serve! And whether we always like it or not, their perception is nearly always their reality!

Several years ago, not long before I really started digging into The Model of Human Behavior, I was working in a human resources role where part of my responsibility was ensuring that our team members were consistently held accountable for performing their required tasks. As I got to know each individual and learned more about their roles, I noticed some gaps in one particular department. There was more indirect labor (non-billable hours) per person in that department than any other and the quality issues seemed to be a bit higher than we were seeing in the other areas.

The supervisor of that...

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Helping Them Achieve Results

I remember seeing a Marriott commercial a while back that closed by saying something along the lines of “we treat our guests like we’d want to be treated.” Ties right in with what nearly all of us know as The Golden Rule, huh? Around that same time, a friend of mine had shared something he experienced while on vacation with his family. For one reason or another, the hotel they were staying at for an entire week had made a mistake with their reservation, booking them in one room for the first half of the week and a different room for the second half of the week. Since it was peak season and the place had no other vacancies, there was no way to keep them in the same room all week long.

At check-in however, the staff member assured my friend that the hotel staff would handle the move from room to room for them in order to minimize the disruption his family experienced. The staff member even told him that’s what they would appreciate if the same thing happened to...

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Serving Specific Needs - Perception is Reality

With a solid foundation of Defining Servant Leadership in place, we can now focus our attention on making sure we’re serving the team we’re leading in a way that really matters to them! This WILL NOT be a one-size-fits-all approach…

Before we start down that path though, I’d like to share something with you from The Servant by James Hunter. I read this book at least a decade ago and absolutely loved it. I apparently loaned it to someone hoping they’d enjoy it as much as I did. They must have because I don’t believe I ever got it back. Oh well… With my new love for listening to books on Audible at 3X the normal speed, I’ve been able to get through this outstanding parable about servant leadership twice in just the last few days. I won’t share the story leading up to this quote - you’ll need to read or listen to it yourself for that - but in chapter two, Hunter suggested that “a leader is someone who recognizes and...

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Exemplifying Servant Leadership

When I trained teams on behavior-based safety across North America, a point we always covered was that you can’t see someone’s attitude or their emotions but we can get a solid read on their attitude and their emotions by observing their behavior. Today as Cindy and I provide Strategic Leadership Coaching for individuals from various organizations that we’ve done training for, we work with them to ensure they’re achieving the best possible results from the immediate action steps they commit to applying based on what they learned in the sessions with us. The first question I always ask them is what their team will be able to see them doing differently as they apply the steps they’ve outlined. In either case, the behaviors we choose provide the people around us with a clear picture of what we believe - our attitude and our emotions!

To this point, I’ve shared some background on the idea of servant leadership with hopes of providing a solid...

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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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