On my birthday, I decided to give myself the present of Thought!… not that I don’t have an eternal light bulb burning 24/7 within my brain, but I wanted to remind myself of who I was.. or at least who I strive to be. A Servant Leader. Many are not familiar with the term, but as someone who has felt the responsibility of community her whole life, it is a term that I became familiarized with during my early career. So, as a gift to myself… I went to see Former President Bill Clinton speak at the Broward Center for Performing Arts on “Embracing our Common Humanity”. One of the terms President Clinton utilized was … Servant Leadership… it was a reminder!
What is Servant Leadership? Like everything, Wikipedia has a great summary!
Definition of Servant Leadership
Robert K. Greenleaf never specifically defined servant leadership but, based on the writings of Greenleaf and others, it can still be defined as a management philosophy which implies a comprehensive view of the quality of people, work and community spirit. It requires a spiritual understanding of identity, mission, vision and environment. A servant leader is someone who is servant first, who has responsibility to be in the world, and so she contributes to the well-being of people and community. A servant leader looks to the needs of the people and asks himself how she can help them to solve problems and promote personal development. She places her main focus on people, because only content and motivated people are able to reach their targets and to fulfill the set expectations.
Case study: Southwest Airlines – Hire for Attitude and Train for Skill
This is an example of how the very theoretical leadership approach of Servant Leadership can be implemented in the corporate culture of a company.
The employees are at the top of the pyramid and the executives deliver proactive customer service to them. If they do a good job, the employees can spend their time to service the second important group, the customers. As result of good service to the customers the company will make a good profit which is of interest of the shareholders. Herb Kelleher compares leadership with customer service: “Just as Southwest has their customers, the passengers, the management has their customers, the employees. If the customers are not satisfied, they will not fly again with Southwest. If the employees are not satisfied, they will not deliver the required performance.”
Leadership expectations at Southwest: develop people, build great teams, think strategically, excellent results and the identification with the values of the company.
Based on these expectations it becomes clear how the theoretical approach to specific guidelines and principles of conduct was formulated. Therefore very careful attention is paid to whether potential employees meet the values of the company: “Hire for attitude and train for skill”. The value system consists of three core values: “warrior spirit”, as defined by the desire to get excellent results, “a servant’s heart” or “to put others first”, as well as “a fun-loving attitude,” which means not to take themselves too seriously. These are also characteristics of the behavior of a servant leader: active listening, empathy, healing and the formation of a community.
My question for you is… are you a servant leader? Take the quiz!