Blog

Servant ~by~ Leadership

We’ll continue our exploration of various implementations of servant leadership begun in the previous post, where we examined “serve while leading” and “lead while serving.”

whileWhereas the notion of ‘while’ indicated somewhat parallel notions and activities of service and leadership operating within one’s role, the reality we explored is that more often they meld or mask one another and so lose their respective strengths, and responsibilities.

In this post, we’ll explore the more impactful dynamic of ‘by’ rather than ‘while.’ Continue reading “Servant ~by~ Leadership”

Servant ~while~ Leadership

The more time I spend with the concept of servant leadership, the more I find it to be going the way of the notion of ‘leadership’ generally: regularly defined as including nearly every positive virtue imaginable, so that it becomes an amorphous and unhelpful catch-all category which somehow still receives nods of affirmation as a worthwhile perspective. We like the sound of the term and have decided to elevate the idea, even though we usually don’t know exactly what we’re talking about. (See: Leader: the ideal human being?)

Following on from our recent 2-part series on Follower-Focused Servant Leadership, in this post and the following one, I’ll offer four additional perspectives on ‘servant leadership,’ each of which seems to be occasionally intended when using the term, and yet they are significantly different ways of leading, in my opinion. Continue reading “Servant ~while~ Leadership”

Collaboration Requires Communication

I watched a TV series recently which explored various facets of the US President’s work, including his special modes of transportation (Air Force One plane, Marine One helicopter, ‘The Beast’ limousine, and even Ground Force One—the President’s tour bus!) and meeting spaces (e.g. the White House Situation Room).

Amidst all of the special technology and equipment employed in each of these work spaces, what struck me was that the most specialized and precious technology was associated with communication—keeping the President in constant contact with advisors, military, etc. is deemed absolutely vital. He must be able to talk to anybody at anytime, from anywhere.

Despite all the faults of the US government, they seem to have one thing right: communication is at the heart of all leadership and followership, all group endeavors. And it’s something to be invested in, protected, uninterrupted, and guaranteed. Continue reading “Collaboration Requires Communication”

Mission to Multiplication

I attended a workshop last year on the topic of capacity. The presenter, Dr Tom Lambshead, brought together several propositions in a way that really highlighted the essential chain of elements that enable moving from a clearly defined mission to becoming multipliers and seeing achievement and expansion occur. Continue reading “Mission to Multiplication”

Follower-Focused Servant Leadership, Part 2

In order to prevent ‘servant leadership’ from becoming an unhelpfully ambiguous concept, we’ll continue our discussion of what servant leadership can look like. Last time (see Part 1), we highlighted 3 caveats for would-be servant leaders. Below are a few avenues for what it might look like to lead by serving (or perhaps to serve while leading?). Continue reading “Follower-Focused Servant Leadership, Part 2”

Follower-Focused Servant Leadership, Part 1

In conversation with a colleague recently, I discovered how broad the notion of ‘servant leadership’ has become. From Greenleaf’s presentation—from which I would summarize servant leadership as being focused on the development of the organization and its followers—to simple notions of exhibiting varying degrees of humility or altruism, ‘servant leadership’ is in danger of becoming so broad and ambiguous of a concept that it will lose relevance as a helpful platform for communication and reflection. Continue reading “Follower-Focused Servant Leadership, Part 1”

The Language of Followership

Another of my lockdown reads has been Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell. I found his case studies very entertaining and his observations intriguing. But from a followership perspective, I found his seventh chapter, “The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes,” to be the most significant. Continue reading “The Language of Followership”

Am I Growing?

As I mentioned last time, although my schedule hasn’t lightened during this season, I am continuing to make certain decisions to engage in various reflective exercises with the time that I do have available.

I was gifted a copy of the book Younique, by Will Mancini, which was just released earlier this year. I’m finding it a helpful companion for personal reflection on, and articulation of, my passions, values, and other related matters.

But one portion especially struck me from the perspective of followership. Continue reading “Am I Growing?”

The Convictions of Harry Potter

While my own life and work haven’t slowed down amidst covid-19 in order to allow for extra Netflix time, I have been on a quest to explore some of the modern cinematic epics. (So far, none of them holds a candle to Star Wars, though I am a child of the 80s!)

Along the way, I completed the 8-film Harry Potter series, and I came across this short bit of dialogue in the final film.

hp8Two characters are standing in a window, observing a massive horde assaulting the castle-school, and preparing to do their part to defend it. One of them, wizard Kingsley Shacklebolt remarks that it might be helpful to have one or two more defenders standing with them.

Then, Remus Lupin (who happens to be a werewolf) states, “It is the quality of one’s convictions that determines success, not the number of followers.”

When Kingsley asks who said that (undoubtedly hoping it’s some credible sage), Remus answers, “Me.” So unless we’re prepared to take a half-man, half-wolf at his word, perhaps we need to evaluate this statement before we simply assume that it’s true. Continue reading “The Convictions of Harry Potter”

Followership according to NASA

With many leaders and followers operating under unusual circumstances due to the covid-19 epidemic, some expertise was sought from those who work under the most unusual circumstances of all: space-dwelling NASA astronauts.

NASA experts developed a list of 5 ‘expeditionary behaviors’ which they have found contribute to their people being “happy, productive, and successful.” While they say that their strategies “can be applied to any situation that involves working remotely as a group,” my opinion is that they are actually universally applicable, and would be good for us to keep in mind in any of our leader-follower circumstances. Continue reading “Followership according to NASA”

Followers can be Multipliers

My supervisor recently had us all read Liz Wiseman’s book Multipliers; it’s a fairly straightforward encouragement to leaders for them to lead in such a way as to encourage (‘multiply’) the best contributions from their followers while avoiding ‘diminishing’ behaviors.

51mi+INl5SLFrom a followership perspective, I very much appreciated Chapter 8, “Dealing with Diminishers.” Within this leadership manual, Wiseman addresses this chapter to followers, with some concrete strategies for how to get out of negative cycles in unhealthy leader-follower dynamics, and ways to maintain one’s sanity—and even improve the situation—if you work under a diminishing boss.

The more ironic thing than finding a follower-focused chapter in a leadership book, is that I found much of her advice to accord with the leader-focused chapter in my followership book! Continue reading “Followers can be Multipliers”

Following with a Limp

I appreciate when books help to give us proper perspective and to remind us of our humanity. There is no lack of leadership materials that paint big visions of people who can change the world, who can be anything they want to be if they just try hard enough. There’s no gap in the literature of extolling the inherent hero-nature and nearly superhuman qualities of leaders.

41Hqu2nvTKL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_One book that helps to remind us of our human realities is Leading with a Limp, by Dan Allender. Thankfully, it’s not just an exercise in humility, but a guidebook for working in spite of, and because of, our limitations.

However, leaders aren’t the only ones who limp. Leaders aren’t the only ones with limitations. Continue reading “Following with a Limp”