The notes below are the summary of a roundtable I facilitated on Thursday, September 26, 2013 The group consisted of 22 leaders from a variety of for profit and nonprofit organizations.
Topic for the day: A Servant-Leadership practice you have been cultivating in your professional or personal life: How did it grow and what has it become a part of?
Listening: Listening creates the opportunity for others to share what is most important to them. Through listening we bring value to people’s lives. Simply being present to others is a strong indicator of their value as a person. Sometimes just listening is all we can do but that’s still a great deal.
Modeling: A leader is always modeling behaviors for others to follow. Demonstrating the behaviors we hope to evoke in others provides examples for others to follow. Be brave about showing your passion. Others want to be passionate too, but, some are afraid to show their passion. Once they see someone else, “dancing”, they get out on the dance floor.
Relationships: It is important to be intentional about the relationships we have with those we lead. The practice of greeting people and asking about them is being polite. It is when we remember what was said and take the time to follow up on the passing comments that we demonstrate our care for others. Sincerity and trust go hand in hand in developing strong relationships with followers. People know we care when we are open to learning what is important to them beyond the confines of the workplace. We need to be present to people as they are, where they are.
If we really want to build a strong organization we need to go beyond an “open door” policy. Specifically scheduling time to meet one-on-one with people is the only way to be sure to connect with them. Meeting outside of the workplace allows for limiting of distractions. The absence of an agenda creates the opportunity for what is important to present itself.
Self awareness: We cannot know others without knowing ourselves. This is something that takes silence and reflection. We need to be willing to laugh at ourselves and be transparent to others. Self knowledge is often the result of an epiphany and often a result of personal challenge.
Growth and change: Organizational change creates opportunities for growth. We can leverage these opportunities for growth or limit growth in the event of change. It was noted: When Jesus left they didn’t recruit a new messiah, the disciples stepped up. There is great value in allowing emerging leaders to step up in the face of change.
Leadership: When we look at exemplar leaders we often find people who served by meeting the needs of others. We can spend time and effort on principles of S-L but it is the small activities of day to day interactions that are the key of servant leadership. It is important to see ourselves as leaders of leaders. As leaders we are charged with creating opportunities for others to have the epiphanies that will lead to their own personal growth.
Randy Crump described a situation that would seem to call on the best of skills of a Servant-leader. In acting as an intermediate between groups with differing interest on the same value pool an S-L is called upon to consider the needs of all parties and seek an agreement that is mutually beneficial to all.