Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Servant Leadership Practice--Serve Another

I worked for a guy once that had the maintenance crew of the company build him an ice-fishing house. Another time, another boss had the IT guys come to his home to set up his plasma screen TV and wireless network. At this company, the maintenance guy also cleared the boss' driveway of snow when he was traveling.

The maintenance and IT personnel practiced good service. However, I can't say the same for the boss-people. Maybe they justify it by saying they served those helpers in other ways. We humans can rationalize nearly any action on our part. It always makes sense to us. Even if it borders on theft of company "assets".

Many organizations these days will show an organizational chart with the top management at the bottom of the page, and the levels with the least responsibility and authority at the top of the page. This is supposed to indicate that we have a servant leadership organization. As they say, "the proof is in the pudding" and "the talk is confirmed by the walk."

In my years of leadership, I've asked my team how I can help them more or hinder them less. My job is to make them successful or get out of the way. If I'm not helping, then I'm hurting. My job is more to plan than to execute. Theirs is to execute more than plan. If I'm not providing the right education, tools, access to information and people, and time to do their jobs well, then I'm not helping. Their work is just as important as mine.

I never interrupt a conversation they're having with someone else...unless it's an emergency. I show up on-time for meetings, no matter who has scheduled them. This is not only a way to honor them; it's a way of serving the organization, rather than the organization serving me.

Today, find a way to serve another person in your organization. Find a way to provide a tool, education, or access. Better yet, let them delegate upward to you, so that they have time to do what they need to do.

For C12 and Truth@Work members, I heard this perspective on the Last Supper this past week. As Jesus and the disciples gathered for the meal we commonly call "the Last Supper", it may have been that everyone was waiting for someone else to serve them by washing their feet. Jesus showed them how to behave. Don't wait for someone else to serve. If you see the need, be like Christ and jump in.

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