The role of a great leader is not to give greatness to human beings, but to help them extract the greatness they already have inside them.
Quote attributed to J. Buchan
I have been a fan of the servant leader paradigm since my initial exposure to Stephen Covey early in my career. Stephen came with his partner Roger Merrill to lead training on the 7 Habits of highly Successful People. I had an opportunity to chat with both Stephen and Roger over the 3-day seminar and it was a profound experience.
If you haven’t read Stephen’s books find time to do so. The counsel is timeless and you will find it a worthwhile experience.
One of the things Stephen spoke about was the importance of listening to the language/behavior used by management as a way to understand if servant leadership is the norm or the exception in an organization. I was digging through my notes from that meeting and found this list of words/behaviors to use in that assessment. I thought you might like to know what the words/behaviors are. You can use this list to assess your own organization. Just create a table of the words/behaviors and over a 3-day period place a checkmarks next to each word/behavior every time you hear/observe a manager use it. Then add up the checks and you can better judge if servant leadership is the norm or exception in your organization.
|Words to Use||Words to Lose|
|Our Way||My Way|
Even if you do not use the list to conduct an assessment of your organization, you can use it for some introspection. How close are you to being a servant leader? Have you adopted a paradigm of helping people be successful or are you focused less on people development and more on project results?
Admittedly, servant leadership is just one approach to leading. I happen to think it is the best approach, but it is certainly not the easiest. If you opt to pursue this path you may find a good deal of resistance from your management (particularly if you work in a command:control structure). But my own experience suggests it is more professionally rewarding to nurture people while you deliver results.
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