Monday, March 28, 2011

Servant Leadership Practice--Devoted to Another Like a Brother

In Business Leadership, The Marine Corps Way, Dan Carrison and Rod Walsh suggest that Marines do not identify themselves by a unit or specialty. They are "just" Marines. There's no particular loyalty to the SEALS, Airborne, Armored, destroyer, carrier, fighter, bomber units as there are in other armed forces. The Marines want to break down barriers. Sure, they say, there are cliques and friendship groups but there are no institutional barriers that suggest you can't work with someone else.

In business, we have been struggling with breaking down "silos" for at least 30 years. We have been moderately successful. We still organize by departments, business units, etc. We still engender loyalty through budgets and the amount of "space" your department is given. Additionally, we often fail to realize that we "win or lose as a team." We can have the best Accounting department but if an operations unit is failing, Accounting is going down too. We need to work together. We need to support each other as if we're on the same team...and in the same family.

In a family, you sacrifice for another person. You stay connected. You don't undermine their ability to succeed.

How does this look in business? When budgets need cutting, you look at the opportunities as objectively as possible. It might mean yours shrinks while another grows. When project assignments are made, you find the right person whether that person is in your department or not. At company events, mix people up from different departments. When we've done this, we've had people begin to appreciate what "they" do and who they are. We've also made sure that we have broad-based representation on our internal audit teams. We train them not to try to find fault, but to find opportunities for improvement. One of the by-products of this has been that people begin to understand the amount of work and effort that is a part of someone else's job.

Today, look for ways to break outside your functional silo, and be loyal to another's unit.

For C12 and Truth@Work members, Jesus rebuked his disciples when they tried to assert any privilege. A few asked him who would be the greatest among them. Two brothers tried to finagle their way into the inside of the inner circle. Jesus would have nothing of it. Likewise, we should have nothing of it in our organizations. We are one group, succeeding or failing as a group.

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