|| Print ||
|Friday, November 09, 2012|
BY MICHAEL BECK
The recent superstorm on the East Coast disrupted transportation, closed thousands of businesses, and caused millions to lose power. In the midst of handling state of emergency, President Obama did something notable. What he did revealed who he is as a leader (regardless of which presidential candidate you supported) and set an example each of us as leaders ought to pay attention to and emulate.
Obama told the governors of the affected states to "call him directly if they hit a single bureaucratic snag." He didn't say, "Call my office." He didn't say, "Report back to me and keep me updated daily." What he said in essence was, "Call me personally if you have the slightest bottleneck due to anything in my control, and I will make it go away".
His statement reflects what I consider to be a servant leadership mentality and philosophy, which in my opinion, is one of the strongest, most effective styles of leadership. Let me share why I feel this way.
Leadership is about eliciting the best in others. In order for an organization to truly excel, a culture of bringing out the best in people must permeate it. A culture which embraces a servant leader philosophy accomplishes just that. Asking and answering three simple questions puts this in perspective and illustrates why having a servant mentality works so well.
The first question that needs to be asked is, "Who is the most important person to your company?" (Notice I didn't ask "in" your company, but rather "to" your company.) The answer, of course, is the customer. No Customers = No Company.
A follow-up question is, "Who then is the most important person to your customers within your company?" Clearly the answer is not "the CEO". No, the most important person to a customer is the person they come in contact with - the "front line".
The third and final question is the one that really drives the leadership point home. "What then is the job of the manager of those front line people?" The job of that manager is to bring out the best in the people he or she leads. The manager must ensure that his team has the training and knowledge they need. She needs to provide the support and environment to allow them to be their best. The whole goal is to make their work as enjoyable, productive, and as rewarding as possible.
If you apply this reasoning to the next level up of management, and the level above that, and so on and so forth, it results in an organizational chart that resembles an inverted pyramid. It's an organization that acknowledges the importance of the front line and reflects a philosophy of service throughout.
This isn't simply a theory or a type of feel-good culture that compromises profit and performance. Far from it. It is a practical, proven, and extremely effective approach to conducting business. There are a number of real-world examples of businesses that have embraced a servant leader philosophy and generated strong results.
Michael Beck is a Portland-based executive strategist and specializes in business strategy, executive development, and leadership effectiveness. Connect on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/mjbeck, or visit michaeljbeck.com to learn more.
|A Good Leap Forward|
|A Taste of Heaven|
|Fast Food Slows Down|
|Tight and Loose|
|Startup or Grow Up?|
|PBR sold to Russian beverage company|
|Scotland votes to stay in United Kingdom|
|Scotland vote on independence begins|
|Artificial sweeteners may lead to diabetes|
|General Mills expects to save $100M|
|Sony predicts $2.14B loss|
|United Airlines offers $100K buyouts to flight attendants|
Is your business ready to join us in the call for action? This opening panel includes Oregon businesses who will discuss why they signed the Oregon Climate Declaration, the investments they are making to reduce carbon emissions, and how their actions are affecting their companies.
Get ready for two days of special events produced with the EPA, Portland Timbers and ISOS before and after the GoGreen Conference on October 16.
First Call Resolution targets employee well-being and client satisfaction.
How six leading foundations are working together for a better Oregon.
Vigilant enters a New Year with a new president.
The Oregon Entrepreneurs Network (OEN) is pleased to announce 12 finalists—from a record number of 67 nominees—for the 2014 OEN Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards
The Oregon Entrepreneurs Network (OEN) is pleased to announce three finalists for the inaugural OEN Game Changer Award.