"Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others." Jack Welch
Thus continues our quest through servant leadership as defined by Robert Greenleaf. Our journey - SERVant Leadership...ON Purpose! - takes us to the most impactful servant leadership competencies - Developing Others - or as Greenleaf put it a "Commitment to the growth of people."
Greenleaf describes this competency as, "The secret of institution building is to be able to weld a team of such people by lifting them up to grow taller than they would otherwise be.”
Larry C. Spears (2000), in his article, Character and Servant Leadership: Ten Characteristics of Effective, Caring Leaders, takes a look at Greenleaf's concept of developing others. He states, "Servant leaders believe that people have an intrinsic value beyond their tangible contributions as workers. As such, the servant leader is deeply committed to the growth of each and every individual within his or her organization."
Which is why Greenleaf identified a simple "Best Test" to validate a servant leader and the organization's servant leadership:
Do those served, grow as persons?
Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? What is the effect on the least privileged in society?
Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?”
Do employees believe you are committed to helping them develop and grow?
Servant leaders have a strong commitment to the growth of people. They believe that all employees have something to offer beyond their tangible contributions. Servant leaders work hard to help employees develop in a number of ways. Servant leaders need to connect to others’ developmental needs and actively find ways to help them reach their true potential as employees.
Ways Servant Leaders Nurture a "Growth of People" Culture
Hire Slow - find the fit. There's a company in the Atlanta area known for following hiring process: "Hire slow. Fire Fast." Their business results can't be denied. Chick-fil-A is the highest ranking fast food restaurant in the country for customer satisfaction, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index Restaurant Report. The family-owned company has been expanding across the country and is currently in 43 states and Washington, D.C., and had more than $7.9 billion in sales last year. Over the past five years, chain’s system sales have increased 73 percent YET they are open 6 days a week! So, when Chick-fil-A hires it puts candidates through numerous interviews and a protracted hiring process it is to ensure the person will thrive in their position. Truth be told, it's easier to develop others if they possess the basic building blocks toward full potential - core values, integrity, work ethic, raw gifts and talents. For more on values, SEE: The MOST Important Value?
Embrace Diversity - When diversity is brought up, the first thing that comes to your mind is usually race, gender, and religion. Diversity these days includes much more than these criteria, especially for the rising workforce of millennials. Servant leaders get this. They define diversity as a blending of different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives - or what scientists are calling cognitive diversity - defined as "the differences in our thought and problem-solving processes." We can learn from one another, but first we must have a level of understanding about each other in order to facilitate collaboration and cooperation. SEE: Why Diversity Matters...
Expect, Demonstrate and Encourage Teamwork - Servant leaders encourage / nurture teamwork through action, conversations, feedback, follow up, recognition and rewards systems. Some of the benefits of teamwork: fosters creativity and learning; blends complementary strengths; builds trust; teaches conflict resolution; Skills; promotes a wider sense of ownership; and encourages healthy risk-taking.
Focus on Relationships - Servant Leaders are relationship builders and allow time and space for team members to build relationships while they accomplish tasks. The benefits: less conflict; higher morale, retention, engagement; increased productivity; and happier customers / clients.
Help the Team Create a Vision - Servant leaders help people connect their personal work to the goals of the team and the vision of the organization. SEE : Conceptualization...ON Purpose!
Committed to Team Success and Others - The best teams are committed to their success and each other. This requires conversations, coaching and conflict resolution.
Coach - Servant leaders give their managers the know-how and time to coach. They understand people don't reach their full potential in a vacuum. I like to say "A COACH HELPS THE EYE SEE WHAT CAN'T BE SEEN, THE EAR HEAR WHAT CAN'T BE HEARD, AND THE MIND PROCESS WHAT CAN'T BE PROCESSED..."
Organizations where coaching skills are infused in day-to-day practice have “higher employee engagement and stronger financial performance.” So says an International Coaching Federation (ICF) research report.
Here's a simple coaching framework borrowed from the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland.
To start a coaching session, the acronym TOSS will help:
Topic - "What topic would you like to focus on today?"
Objective - "What is the objective for this meeting?"
Success - "How will both of us know you (i.e. coachee) have been successful?"
Support - "What can you do to support him/her during and after this conversation?"
At the end of a meeting, the TAPAT questions invite the coachee to consolidate her/his learning and commit to action.
Take aways - "What are your take aways from this meeting?"
Actions / Plan - "What actions will you take, and/or what’s your plan?"
Accountability - "How will you make yourself accountable for your action or plan?"
Thanks - Express appreciation for something specific that has happened during the meeting.
SEE: The Power of a Coach
Be Available While Letting Team Grow Independently - Servant leaders are needed. They are committed and are excited and believe in the goals of the team. They have time and invest time in their team. And, they also leave their teams alone. They don’t micromanage. People grow and learn with help, yet, servant leaders can’t do things for them. They give them space, opportunity and are patient. As the team learns and grows they are leveraging that learning for the lifetime of the team.
Delegate - The servant leader understands that people get closer to their potential by being asked to stretch! Do something beyond their current capabilities. Many have found delegation to be a great way to achieve that end. Through stretch assignments! Delegation allows servant leaders to make the best use of their time and skills, and it helps other people in the team grow and develop to reach their full potential in the organization.
Celebrate - A servant leader must fight against the demands of management and the details of important tasks in order to be intentional about communicating value to the organization. He/she must consider affirming words, actions, tangible rewards, genuine encouragements, professional training, attentive listening, and many other methods to affirm his/her deep appreciation for the gifts and talents provided by each member of the team.
There are nine other servant leadership competencies that by themselves are meaningful. Add this competency - "Commitment to the growth of people" - and the others come alive. Without people and their growth - the results of the servant leader and the organization they lead will be muted.
My best to your quest!
I believe each of us is a gift. I create trusted relationships where individuals, teams and leaders NAME, CLAIM and AIM their gifts to achieve optimum performance.
Interested to Learn About Yourself or Your Team? Mark is a Certified CliftonStrengths Coach and TotalSDI Facilitator and happy to discuss your situation
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About Mark Myette
I believe each of us is a gift. I create trusted
Based out Roam - Buckhead - 3365 Piedmont Rd NE, Suite 1400 (2nd Floor), Atlanta, GA 30305
Can meet at other Roam locations if appropriate: Alpharetta; Dunwoody; or Galleria