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January 20, 2014

Leadership Thoughts #4 Leaders Serve

As I finalize the “Leadership Thoughts” series, there is one term I would like to clarify. In the past three posts I have mentioned the term “Servant Leadership” many times. Although I am sure this term isn’t foreign to most, few can simplify the concept quite as eloquently as Mark Miller. Through his blog greatleadersserve.org, and his book “The Secret” Mark provides the perfect tool to help leaders SERVE.

Leadership concepts are abounding. A student of leadership could effortlessly uncover theories to support any style. For instance, the autocratic leadership style will find the leader as the ultimate source of power and authority. This sort of leadership might be attractive to a new leader as they test the boundaries of their ability to influence.  At the other end of the spectrum there are organizations developing the concept of self-directed work teams. Within this concept there is no appointed leader, and each team member has the opportunity to step into an influential role.

Of course, both of these styles have been effective at the right time and in the right situation, but I find that the most successful leaders realize that the true focus is less about the leader and more about the team. Mark Miller sums it up quite nicely in the acronym, “Great Leaders SERVE.”

See and shape the future

Engage and develop others

Reinvent continuously

Value relationships and results

Embody the values

When leaders see and shape the future, they clearly and accurately see the current state of the organization. With this information in mind, the leader casts a vision among their team, and consequently shapes the future of their organization.

Engaging others can prove challenging for some leaders and can rarely be done without a clear vision for the organization. This step requires that leaders look past the physical person and see into each team member’s potential in order to engage their mind and creativity for the betterment of the organization. Once the team member is engaged, the leader must identify a development process for the team member in order to help them sharpen their skills and move into a position of influence.

Maybe you have heard the expression “leaders are learners.” Great leaders realize that no level of success equates to perfection. Because of this, leaders are open to continuous learning and developing areas of improvement. These leaders take personal responsibility for their own development, knowing that the environment around them is constantly changing and realizing that successful leaders do not become stagnant.

I recently posted about valuing relationships and results in “Leadership Thoughts 3.” In summary, a great leader finds a balance between valuing positive relationships and positive results. Most leaders tend to lean heavily to one side or the other, but a great leader finds the balance between the two and learns to value both.

Embody the values. What things are the core drivers for your organization? Whether its leadership development, product design, or guest experience, the leader sets the example and becomes the driving force behind the organizational values. Living the values of an organization clarifies and personifies the expectations of the leader and sets the standard for conduct among the team members.

Do you see the value in utilizing the SERVE Model in your organization?

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