News & notes

A conversation on healing

The following notes are a result of a roundtable conversation on the power of healing.  The conversation took place at the monthly gathering of the Servant-Leader Milwaukee roundtable held on Thursday, August 28th.  The roundtable is free of charge and open to all.

For more information about Servant-Leader Milwaukee and the Servant-Leader roundtable, please go to

Roundtable summary notes



  • It is important to be mindful that everyone has things on their mind.  Usually you can tell when a person is feeling good or bad.
  • It is a natural tendency to project our own beliefs and expectations onto the actions of others.  Know each person’s disposition.  Recognize when people need help in order to heal.
  • Be kinder and gentler because everyone is fighting their own battle.
  • In order to lead we must be aware of how many dimensions we all have.  Self-awareness is key.



  • Lots of people have personal issues.  Being understanding of that as a leader is a big help to people in and of itself.
  • Let them know you are human too and your own improvements.
  • Make yourself available and vulnerable.
  • Be gentle.
  • Roy O shared that a friend had to retire because of Parkinson’s.  8-10 friends spend a couple hours a week with him.  His body won’t heal…but, his mind is being healed.
  • You can learn more about acceptance (and your faith) from someone who has suffered, than from any other source.
  • Listening and healing are both a two way street.
  • Healing has many forms.  You as a healer can be healed in the process.
  • We should consider EMPATHY as a separate topic.



  • Listening is part of helping people with healing.
  • Being listened to is a transformative experience.Listen to understand.
    Listening can be more impactful than trying to fix things.  Trying to fix people who just want to be heard creats barrier.
  • Some people want a magic pill.  There’s no such thing.  Just listen.
  • Usually people want you to keep your solutions to yourself, unless they ask for them.
  • I’m asking you because I want to know.  I’m not asking you to set you up.   There must be sincerity in your intent.



  • The formal or informal leader sets the tone in any group.
  • As leaders we need to model the way as a person of empathy.
  • Sometimes this requires us to fight the urge to fix others even though we are confident we know how we can help them.
  • Ask, “What if we did it this way?”, rather than saying, “Do it this way.”  This gentler approach is more powerful.
  • There needs to be a certain level of trust.


Building community:

  • There are always people in every group that need healing.
  • The country needs healing due to racial strife and political polarity.
    You need to have a relationship with people to help them heal.
  • There is our outside persona, to really know someone you need to get to know them and know what character is behind that outside persona.
  • If people have a bad experience on the job and are broken…as a leader you can (and should) pick them up.
  • Trust and empathy are key.
  • There are times in organizational life where the need for healing arises from within.  Ask the question…What happened here?  Let the other person come to the conclusion.
  • It’s the individuals who lack empathy who are a cause for concern.  As a leader may need to break them down…show them a mirror…and then heal them.
  • Teamwork theme: “I” will die…”We” must be.

Operating agreements

The following guidelines describe the principles which govern interactions among participants in the Servant-Leader Milwaukee roundtable.  These principles act as a guide in our interaction with each other as participants in the group.  These norms will be reviewed and revised periodically.


  1. The Servant Leader Roundtable is first and foremost a learning community. At no time is the group intended to be a source of sales leads for products or services.
  2. We recognize that a dollar spent with a Servant-Leader goes farther than a dollar spent elsewhere. With the knowledge that we will not be approached by members selling their goods/services we make reasonable efforts to proactively support the business and personal activities of our fellow Servant-Leaders.
  3. Ideas are presented in a way that promotes mutual discussion and resolution.
  4. The discussion of issues, ideas, and direction will not become a personal attack or return to haunt you in the future.
  5. Practice and experience humility – each of us may not have all the answers.
  6. Listen first to understand, and don’t be dismissive of the input received when we listen.
  7. Share air time with others.  Recognize that different individuals are more or less comfortable in groups.
  8. Don’t go off /stay off topic for long.
  9. Keep confidentiality.
  10. If you have a problem with someone, calmly and respectfully address the problem directly with them.
  11. Expend the effort to practice all of these norms and to care enough about the team and its work to confront each other, with care, compassion, and purpose, when a team member fails to practice these norms.


August 12, 2014

How do we score/evaluate the Servant-Leader roundtable?

The following notes are a summary of the Servant-Leader roundtable held on July 24, 2014


Topic: How do we score/evaluate the Servant-Leader roundtable?

The notes below are a composite of notes provided by Karin Conway, Yvonne Dill, and Mike Kelliher. Additional comments were provided by Dick Peiper and David Flowers. My thanks go out to Karin, Yvonne, Mike, Dick and David for chronicling our time together and to all who participated in the conversation.

Like Servant Leadership itself defining a concise scorecard of measures for the Servant-Leader roundtable proved to be a greater challenge than we may have thought at the outset. In summarizing the notes for this gathering it has proven to be an easier, and hopefully, more informative exercise to present the summary in two parts; 1) measures of the roundtable activity, and 2) a description of how the experience of the roundtable reinforces the Servant Leadership work of the participants.



  • At its most surface level, the servant-Leader roundtable can be measured by how many people attend each month. Groups tend to have a life cycle and this group is not immune from the challenges of losing focus and direction.
  • One method for assessing Servant Leadership qualities is to break down the components of service and of leadership. This allows us to evaluate our focus and practice of each.
  • A part of the S-L roundtable experience is the opportunity to learn from and with a diverse set of people. The ability to tap into this diversity allows for the group to see Servant-Leadership in new ways.
  • Note: The current diversity of the group comes from the variety of experiences of the group. There is a lack of racial, ethnic, and generational diversity in the group. It is an
  • opportunity for growth that should not be overlooked.
  • “The best test is: do those served grow as persons: do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society; will they benefit, or, at least, not be further deprived?” (Greenleaf, 1977/2002, p. 27)
  • For this group the final measure of our time together is how we take the lessons learned around the table and implement them in our daily lives. What we demonstrate is what we teach.



  • Participation in the Servant-Leader roundtable allows participants to reinforce their knowledge and understanding of Servant Leadership.
  • The roundtable provides a monthly recharge & focus on Servant Leadership.
  • The roundtable is a reminder that leadership comes down to relationship building.
  • The conversations serve as a reminder of the need to be intentional in our lives. This is a “want to do” not “must do” activity.
  • Spiritual values are reinforced here; sharing love, showing grace.


Questions we are left with:

  • How do I show up?
  • When are we listening? When are we not?
  • How clear can we be about how we invest our time?
  • How are the people in our lives doing?
  • How are we investing in people?
  • What are we creating?


Building community:

  • Work is easy. Relationship building is hard.
  • What we get from each other is more than the single topic we use to frame our roundtable conversation.
  • The roundtable demonstrates that people who are well served and deeply connected do not need much leadership.
  • Our time together raises the question of how might we communicate the various ways we participate in the community and how we might be of service to each other in our volunteer work.



Greenleaf, R. K. (1977/2002). Servant-leadership: A journey into the nature of legitimate power and greatness. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.


  • There is a LinkedIn group called Servant Leader Milwaukee. It is a group that is a space to continue the conversation started at our monthly roundtables and to be a resource to each other.
  • The Servant-Leader Milwaukee web page can be found at It is intended to be a resource for all.
  • This group is open to all who are interested in Servant-Leadership. Join the reminder list by clicking the following link: Affinity/MoMS/Servant-Leader Master List

S-L Roundtable summary from June 26

Roundtable highlights


: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.


If you would like to attend an upcoming Servant-Leader roundtable, please click on the “Connect” or “Gather” tabs for more information.

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.

Reflective comments

  • 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?

Book recommendation

Covey, S., Mcchesney, C., Huling, J. (2012). “The 4 Disciplines of Execution.” Free Press

Next month

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.

Persuasion as a tool of influence

A quote attributed to Robert K. Greenleaf:

“Persuasion involves arriving at a feeling of rightness about a belief or action through one’s own intuitive sense. One takes an intuitive step, from the closest approximation to certainty that can be reached by conscious logic (which is sometimes not very close) to the state in which one can say with conviction, “This is where I stand!” The act of persuasion, thus defined, would help order the logic and favor the intuitive step. But the person being persuaded must take that intuitive step alone, untrammeled by coercive or manipulative stratagems of any kind.” (Frick, 2004, p. 143)

Reflections on persuasion vs. positional power:

  • Persuasive negotiation provides buy in.  Positional power (and coercion) does not
  • A key to effective persuasion is empowering those around us.
  • In adopting the use of persuasion we acknowledge the relationship between the Servant-Leader and those being served.  Constructive feedback doesn’t naturally go up a vertically structured organizational pyramid.  Good leaders make it safe for others to give them feedback.
  • In developing these relationships we build up an emotional bank account.  We can occasionally make a small withdrawal without destroying our own personal credibility.
  • While at AT&T, Robert K. Greenleaf was able to navigate the organizational culture without being encumbered by positional authority.  This allowed him to provide insights to AT&T President’s that they might not be able to otherwise obtain.
  • One of the biggest challenges in leveraging the value of persuasion vs. positional power is the need to recognize the informal organization within any group and to have a lifelong commitment to learning.
  • When people do only what they were told, the people are being compliant but there is very likely a lack of commitment.
  • A leader who relies on a coercive Behavioral nature is working from the same place that bullies come from.  It is hard to come back from that place.
  • It is so hard to gain trust and so easy to lose it.  When you do something good few persons know about it. Do something bad and everyone knows about it.
  • Whether we realize it or not a reliance on coercive power within an organization can be recognized by customers and suppliers with potentially devastating results.

The persuasive power of example:

  • Actions speak louder than words.  Never ask anyone to do things you wouldn’t do
  • You need to walk a mile in people’s shoes to know how they feel.  Picking up a broom once in a while sends a powerful message.
  • By understanding those we lead we can sometimes get people to do things they didn’t realize they would enjoy doing.  A key is to set an expectation.
  • When people go above and beyond, you know you are leading well.  Commitment, loyalty, and trust are key.

Challenging situations:

  • It can be hard to know what will motivate any given individual.  Some people appear to not want to make decisions, or think.  In a perfect world the Servant-Leader will demonstrate endless patience as an empathetic listener and coach.  Self-awareness on the part of the leader will guide careful choices what to say in certain situations.  You need to manage your own emotions.
  • One of our members shared the experience of seeing her Board of Directors fail to acknowledge the extraordinary work done by her staff.  While the situation does not speak directly to persuasion vs. positional power it speaks volumes to the dynamics involved when a Servant-Leader is not supported by those with greater positional power, and of the challenges of leading up.
  •    A major problem in exerting positional power is the fact that can lead to a dangerous game of brinksmanship.  Eventually good people rise up against an overuse of coercive/positional power.  They leave or get him/her to leave.
  • Kids appear to be able to naturally sense coercive traits in others.

Insights from the group:

  • Program management is a good format to find leaders.  They are getting a group to achieve a project while holding very little positional power.
  • The server shared that he appreciated our conversation about not being bully managers.
  • Yvonne’s grandmother was the head housekeeper for the Governor General of Jamaica and had amazing positional power.
  • Surround yourself with people that know more than you.
  • Many leaders are do as I say not as I do.  Reality is People do as you do.  We always lead by example, regardless of our intent.
  • We lead from our mental state.  We need to be aware of our state of mind.
  • Do people talk about you over the dinner table?  What do they say about you?

Suggestion for next topic:  The burden of leadership.

Frick, Don M.   (2004). Robert k. Greenleaf: a life of servant leadership.  Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.  San Francisco.