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Develop a positive culture with servant leadership

Develop a positive culture with servant leadership

  • 08 December 2020
  • Posted by Marcella Bremer

During the pandemic, we've all enjoyed or suffered massive free learning. How to adjust fast to unpredictable circumstances, how to deal with uncertainty, how to keep faith and stay resilient and optimistic, how to work from home, how to stay sane and healthy?

Now more than ever, we need positive, servant leaders. Ken and Margie Blanchard, world-renowned servant leaders, shared their approach to leadership in the Leadership for a Changing World online summit in September. And do we need more of that!

The best leaders know that they have to serve their people first. The four-step approach to developing the mindset and skillset of servant leaders entails:

  1. Address your ego
  2. Connect authentically with others
  3. Develop the skills to meet people where they are
  4. Turn good intentions into daily habits

Or, simpler, develop your:

  • heart - your character
  • head - your beliefs about servant leadership
  • hands - how you apply servant leadership
  • habits - how to keep going with servant leadership

Your heart

Are you here to serve or to be served? Of course, you want to serve, but what gets in the way is the human ego. It's normal, as Margie explains. Whenever you compare yourself to others, and you detect a more-than philosophy or a less-than feeling: it's an indication that your ego is activated. Our ego always compares, separates, judges and distorts the facts (though you might think that you are factual and objective...) 

The more aware you are of this, the better your relationships become. And it adds to inner peace. If you want to work on positive relationships, it's great to organize an "Egos Anonymous Meeting" at work and have fun with it.
The formula is: "I'm an ego maniac (and give example)".
Margie shares her example: "A colleague pointed out a great article and my first inner response was: why didn't they ask me to write an article?"
In the Ego meeting everyone shares their examples - it builds trust and awareness in a team. We all have our egos, with best intetions for ourselves, but it's great to not take them seriously all the time.
Of course, it might be easier said than done. Work on the antidote as well. If you have a "more-than" attitude (I'm better, smarter, and so on) work on: humility. Start to notice that you don't know everything. That's impossible.
The antidote to less-than (I'm not good enough) is to jump in and do it. For instance: write that article. Be as great as the other author!

Your head

Ken: "Your head comes up with a vision, direction, and goals. Leadership means you're going somewhere. You can do it together, but most leaders prefer to lead. My suggestion is to turn the piramid upside down: serve your people. Ask: how can I help?"
Margie: "Leadership is an inside-out job. It's vital to know yourself, know your triggers, and so on."
Equally important is to share your story, what you learned, what your values are because of your life experiences. Build trust by getting to know your team better.
For instance: interview each other about significant people and events in your lives. 
Who influenced your values and expectations? Share this with your direct reports - share this in the team. They know you better now - and know each other so much better.
People will remember these stories - it's a gift to each other.

Your hands

Ken recommends to craft your leadership point of view. What kind of leader do you want to be? Next, do you walk your talk? How do you help the people around you win?
Here's how you apply leadership in the busy day-to-day. Most leaders do three things:
1. performance planning (goals)
2. day to day coaching
3. evaluation
Which one do you spend the most time on? According to Ken, often people say it's evaluation. That's because organizations need to decide who to promote and who to let go. But a servant leaders spends the most time on day to day coaching. "You help people get an A while they work. Don't sort them out during the evaluation, help them improve right away."

Your habits

Habits help leaders and professionals do recalibration. Great habits are one-on-one meetings with people - develop the relationship and help them do better at work.
Great habits include taking care of yourself. "I try to feed my mind with good news (not "the" news). Bad news rises to your desk anyway. The standard response to bad news is to issue more rules... While the better response might be to go offline and meditate. Let people solve some of these issues."

The external task-oriented self wakes up first in the morning and takes over. The internal reflective self is slower. So, good habits include reflection.
Morning: Who do I want to be today? Am I living according to my values? 
Evening: what did I do today that is consistent with who I want to be?
What can I do better tomorrow?

Is this too good to be true? The Blanchards don't think so. They point out that Southwest Airlines, Disney, Fortune Magazine, and Starbucks apply servant leadership! Of course, we still see "power-control leadership" in organizations. Many leaders don't have formal training before they become leaders and follow old models, the Blanchards state. It's a matter of time before servant leadership will become the standard. Let's work on this!

(Source: Leadership for a Changing World online summit, September 15,2020).

© Marcella Bremer, 2020. All rights reserved.

I'm one of the Global Gurus on Organizational Culture for 2021. If you like my articles, please vote for me at: https://globalgurus.org/organizational-culture/ Just sign in and select Marcella Bremer (#2 in the second row). Thank you so much!

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