Thursday, February 24, 2005

Practicing Servant-Leadership -- Larry Spears article

Thanks to David Teten's Brain Food Blog, I was recently reminded of the concept of Servant Leadership. I know the concept well, but reading the article below reminded me that the attitude of Servant Leadership is as crucial and applicable to someone filling the role of Chief of Staff as it would be to the CEO, Division President or Team Leader.

In the text of this article by Larry Spears of the Leader to Leader Institute, he quotes from Max DePree, former chairman of the Herman Miller Company and author of Leadership Is an Art and Leadership Jazz: "The servanthood of leadership needs to be felt, understood, believed, and practiced."

I would add my own my own "Amen" to those words by Max DePree. As part of my doctoral studies, I had the privilege of taking a class in leadership taught by Max DePree. He is the very embodiment of these principles.

Enjoy the article, and enjoy even more putting them into practice!

Al Chase

Practicing Servant-Leadership -- Larry Spears full-text article

3 comments:

napkindesigner said...

Larry Spears points to the servant-leader having many highly desireable personality characteristics such as listening, empathy, awareness, conceptualization and other externally focused traits. Folks having those traits are in exceedingly short supply. Such persons are self-starters and exhibit Abraham Maslow's "Self-Actualization" performance level aspect.

Maslow's Needs Hierarchy have been pushed aside somewhat over the past twenty years as additional personality, psychology and behavioral theories have been developed. Yet, to this practicing businessman, Maslow's work continues to offer a clear explanation as to why the 80/20 Rule is alive, well and never going away. I've worked with many independent sales representatives and it is the folks that never get above Maslow's Level 4 (Esteem) that are the 80 Percenters. Give us a Self-Actuator with the Spears' Servant-Leader profile and no matter what the external market conditions, we will show you a top 20 Percenter one day. I daresay the Spears' Servant-Leaders will be found in a high percentage of successful small business owners with many likely to have been previously undiscovered or underutilized potential "stars" in large organizations.

The big question is it nature or nurture that creates Servant-Leaders? As an impressionable young man in the early 1970's I would have said environment is the biggest factor influencing behavior. But having interfaced with thousands of folks over the intervening years, it appears the 80/20 rule may also apply to the nature/nurture argument with nature getting the 80% end of the personality see-saw. A recently popular buzz phrase perhaps captures the argument best - "It is what it Is". A Servant-Leader will nearly always rise like cream to the top and we are all better for their ascension be it within corporations, on the battlefield or in our communities.
Bill Batten

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