:These notes are a composite of the conversation that took place at the June 26 Servant-Leader Milwaukee roundtable held at the Mad Rooster Café. Please note that Jim Kerlin scribes our conversation as it happens. Below is a combination of Jim’s notes, my notes, and my reflection on the gathering. These notes could not be possible without Jim’s contribution and the richness of the conversation.
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Topic: The burden of leadership
We took the time this month to acknowledge the fact that the role of leader is not without its burdens. A commitment to being a Servant-Leader involves additional responsibilities and complexities as we direct our focus toward the service of others. While this service is in the context of the setting we are in (professional, educational, volunteering, etc.) the Servant-Leader recognizes the interrelationship between the immediate situational context and the personal lives of those we serve as we lead.
On the complexity of being a Servant-Leader
- Leadership needs to be adapted to the person, group or team being lead. Circumstances may require the leader to be supportive, directive, a coach, etc.
- A lot of people say communication is a two way street…actually it’s a one way street. We need to communicate well with the audience we are talking to.
- When people are not performing and/or not disclosing problems it creates a burden for others in the organization.
- While we know people learn from working things out there is a balance between correcting injustice and passively watching.
- It’s hard to deliver messages about underperformance and the need to change. Often people react negatively with anger.
- How do you be a good servant leader and get close to people on a personal level and still terminate those that are under performers?
- When you need to let an under-performer go, there is a burden to ask what could “I” have done better to have helped him/her succeed.
- Keep it simple with people. Let them process.
- The great majority of people are not merely economically motivated. Acknowledgement for contribution is another way of saying, “Just give us credit for what we are doing.”
- We need to be aware of people’s need for positive feedback
- A status reporting process provides an opportunity for transparency, accountability, and self-assessment.
- People need and want to be accountable…Let them keep their own score.
- Ask people to create there own scorecard. “How do you measure your own success?”
- A simple scorecard for anyone who serves others: Frequency of smiles vs. Frequency of Outbreaks was used in an environment of people with cognitive disorders (from a book on dignity).
The Servant-Leader as steward
A leader, any leader, is a major influencer of the future success (or failure) of the people and organizations they are associated with. One distinction of a Servant-Leader is that they are willing to embrace this responsibility through their relationships and actions.
On the stewardship responsibilities of the Servant-Leader
- It’s a complex world. Getting more complicated as a result of changing economic and demographic realities.
- The pressure to be effective at managing and engaging in relationships is more important than ever.
- We are not only responsible for leading in the present; we are responsible for mentoring the next generation of Servant-Leaders.
- The faces on the employee picture wall bring great joy…yet also great responsibility. Sometimes we need to remove some pictures from the wall to help the rest.
- To have a very effective organization, leaders must have the foresight to observe leading indicators and to respond to them.
- As we make a hiring decision, we need to recognize and acknowledge the goals for (and of) people.
On self awareness
- Servant Leadership is an art requiring one to be subtle and inconspicuous. You must first know yourself before you can be an effective leader.
- It is complex to be a leader. It is important to be aware of our tolerance for the multidimensional demands of Servant Leadership.
- Everyone needs multiple environments to validate their thoughts.
Topic for next month
How do we score the effectiveness of our SL Roundtable gatherings?
Covey, S., Mcchesney, C., Huling, J. (2012). “The 4 Disciplines of Execution.” Free Press
We will be meeting on Thursday, July 24, 2014 at 8:00 AM at Mad Rooster Café, 4401 W. Greenfield Ave (Greenfield & Miller Park Way). Our focus will be on some of the key practices of Servant-Leaders at the table.