Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Servant Leadership Practice--No Cavalier Attitude

Formed to fight corporate influence on Washington by former Senator Russ Feingold, Progressives United has demanded GE's Jeffrey Immelt step down from President Obama's Council on job growth. GE made $14 billion dollars, paid $0 in taxes and cut workers' pay. Immelt's own pay doubled.

TransOcean executives received a bonus for their 2010 safety record despite the enormous Deep Horizon accident that killed eleven people and caused the largest oil spill in history.

I know one small company at which the managers will get a bonus just because the stock value increased through a redemption of shares by the company.

As executives and managers, we have the livelihood of our employees in our hands. If we're cavalier about the responsibility, they get hurt more than we do. CEO pay has increased at a rate of 27% in 2010 to recover any loss in pay through the recession while the average increase for all workers was less than 3%. During the past 3 years, many did not get a raise, got terminated or saw their salaries reduced, like GE mentioned above. Household income is now the lowest since 1997. In the meantime, workers are being asked to contribute more towards health insurance, and many companies have raised deductibles.

As leaders we are to be judged more harshly. However, too often, many corporate leaders are rewarded by their boards despite poor company performance. Those leaders blame outside factors for the lagging results while taking credit in the boom years. Boards are often not the best to hold executives accountable.

There's a saying about a rising tide will raise all boats. That doesn't seem to work in the business world. As servant leaders, we should be making sure that others' boats rise before ours. One business leader established a bonus plan where, in a traditional organization chart, the lower levels earned bonuses before the top did. Only if the subordinates earn their full bonuses did the managers get anything. This seems to be good stewardship. We are privileged to be given a position that could ensure others' employment, which allows them to provide for their families. Therefore, we should treat this awesome/awe-filled responsibility with humility, respect, and diligence.

Today, find a way to create success for your employees. Make sure they have a chance to earn their full reward before you consider rewarding yourself in small or large ways. In servant leadership, we're at the bottom of the organization.

For C12 and Truth@Work members, leaders and teachers fall under harsher judgment. Remember Jesus' condemnation of the Pharisees because they were leading the flocks astray. Peter tells us that the Father judges each person's work impartially and thus we should live insecurely and in fear lest we get too comfortable and complacent (1 Pet. 1.17). We can find refinement through wise counsel. Fortunately, those in peer councils have the opportunity to seek such counsel.

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