In my August 14 post I mentioned my quest to become a Servant-Leader. This post outlines what I think that means, and provides some links for further information.
Wikipedia defines a servant-leader as one who is a steward of the resources under his care and who seeks to serve those he leads while still getting the bottom-line business results for which he is paid. A servant leader wants to lead not for the power of position, but because by leading he can better serve others. He leads through trust, empathy, collaboration and the like - eschewing hierarchical power.
The concept is probably ageless, but was articulated for our times by Robert K. Greenleaf, in essays and books (see for example, Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness 25th Anniversary Edition, Paulist Press, 2002).
The University of Nebraska (see this three page article) lists 11 characteristics of a servant-leader:
- Having a calling - a natural desire to serve others.
- Being an excellent listener - wanting to know what others think.
- Being empathetic - able to walk in the shoes of others and understand what they are going through.
- Possessing the ability to help others deal with emotional pain.
- Being aware of what's going on - scanning the environment.
- Persuading, rather than compelling people to do things.
- Fostering an environment that encourages others to come up with and contribute their ideas.
- Anticipating future events and the consequences of current decisions.
- Preparing the organization to make a stronger contribution to society in the future.
- Committed to helping other people grow.
- Focused on creating a community within the organization.
I believe you can be a successful business leader (getting financial results) and be a servant-leader. Apparently, John D. Rockefeller, III thought the same. For those of you who have not seen it, here are his words from a plaque at the Rockefeller Center in New York City:
· I believe in the supreme worth of the individual and his right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
· I believe that every right implies a responsibility, every opportunity an obligation, and every possession a duty.
· I believe that the law was made for man, and not man for the law, and that government is the servant of the people, not their master.
· I believe in the dignity of labor, whether with head or hand, that the world owes no man a living, but that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living.
· I believe that thrift is essential to well ordered living, that economy is a prime requisite of a sound financial structure, whether government, business or personal affairs.
· I believe that truth and justice are fundamental to an enduring social order.
· I believe in the sacredness of a promise, that a man’s word should be as good as his bond, and that character – not wealth or power or position – is of supreme worth.
· I believe that the rendering of useful service is the common duty of mankind, and that only in the purifying fire of sacrifice is the dross of selfishness consumed and the greatness of the human soul set free.
· I believe in an all wise and all loving God, named by whatever name, and that the individual’s highest fulfillment, greatest happiness, and widest usefulness are to be found in living in harmony with his will.
· I believe that love is the greatest thing in the world, that it alone can overcome hate, that right can and will triumph over might.
For more information, check out: