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”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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.
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”
It’s often a dirty word. From a debasing perspective on personal worth or identity, to deviant sexual practices, there’s a lot of baggage attached to the word “submission.”
And yet, I think it’s vital that we do the hard work to overcome these skewed views and to invest the notion of submitting with all the positivity and encouragement that we possibly can. Continue reading “Submission Successful”
As we consider the quality of our followership and our experience of pursuing following with excellence, there are two facets that we certainly can’t ignore as part of our relational dynamic: our personal culture, and the culture(s) of those we work alongside—our peers and our superiors. Continue reading “New Free Resource: Culture Combination Considerations”
With the Advent/Christmas season beginning in just a few weeks, I find myself once again returning to thoughts of humility as they apply to leadership-followership (see my older post on Humility or Unity).
In Chapter 6 of Embracing Followership, on the contributions of followership, I list “Guiding from Behind.” Otherwise known as leading up, the idea is the value and opportunity for offering influence from a place at the back of the pack rather than the front of the line. Continue reading “Leading from Behind”
As we see the close of 2019 on the horizon, we’re in a season of gratitude. Canadians celebrated their Thanksgiving just over two weeks ago, and the USA will gorge itself on turkey and pumpkin pie at the end of this month. For me, the Advent/Christmas season continues that same thread of appreciation for what we’ve been given, for gifts received, for acts of kindness and generosity.
As a leader, I find myself thankful for the role my followers fill in gifting me with encouragement and perspective. Continue reading “A Follower’s Rewarding Words”
As much as we value individualism, it seems to be that there is a strong push to ensuring that we each have at least some thread in common with others—whether we’re considering our workplace, community association, family, friends, or even in the context of the whole of humanity.
When we consider the leadership-followership dynamic and participation in an organization, establishing the reality of a common purpose (a topic I’ve written on several times) is one of the foundation stones for an effective relationship within which each person makes his or her particular contributions, in pursuit of a shared aim.
But stopping at the mere articulation of something we can all agree on isn’t going to give us the ideal context for excellent followership and our best contributions. Continue reading “More in Common than Breakfast”
Continuing our reading of Robert Greenleaf’s classic work, from a followership perspective…
Despite being in the final 50 pages of the book, Robert Greenleaf doesn’t let up on introducing new ideas and making strong calls to a life worth living. Chapter 9 is entitled “Servant Responsibility in a Bureaucratic Society,” and Greenleaf paints further pictures of institutional reality and describes the kind of lifestyle we should develop in order to be truly responsible and engaged servants .
Continue reading “A Followership View of Servant Leadership: Ch 9”