Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Servant Leadership

It's fashionable today to talk about servant leadership. You read about it in business books. You hear about it in leadership seminars.

The problem is most business leaders are using servant-hood as a tactic to help them get ahead. It is more style than substance.

Here is the test for whether you are serious about servant-hood: How do you react when people treat you like a servant?

Real servants don't expect applause, a standing ovation, or a plaque. They don't wait for honors or a promotion. For the most part, servants are ignored, taken for granted, and unappreciated. No one ever thanks them. It is the nature of the office of servant.

Now, are you sure you are interested in servant leadership? Or is it just leadership you want?


  1. The Servant Leader by Ken Blanchard is an excellent book that helps define the difference in self-serving or servant leader.

  2. Jim, great point. In my book, The Journey to Competitive Advantage Through Servant Leadership. I talk about Counterfeit Servant Leaders. They can be spotted by their people pretty easily so someone should never try and fake it. Here are some of the signs.
    • They hold meetings, telling their people how much they care, but their actions don’t match.
    • Leadership is about power
    • They believe people can easily be replaced.
    • They believe they are the smartest person in the room.
    • Blame their people and others for mistakes.
    • They provide very little feedback to their people. Performance reviews are fast and something. they just want get off their desk. Never about helping their people really improve.
    • They ask for little to no feedback on how they are doing as a leader.
    • They have very few one-on-one meetings with their people.
    • Communication is done mostly through memos or e-mails.
    • In meetings, they do most of the talking leaving little time for questions or real dialogue.
    • They show little interest in their team as individuals.
    • They lead generically since they don’t really know the potential of their people.
    • They focus more on tasks and not their peoples potential.
    If leaders just understood that if you build an environment of caring and mutual trust, and provide encouragement, motivation and inspiration your people you will build the organization every President dreams about.
    Bill Flint