Servant Leadership: The New Paradigm

We’re all familiar with the model of the traditional organization. The CEO sits atop the pyramid, followed by the vice presidents, managers, supervisors, and then the employees. At the bottom are the customers. It’s almost as if the customer is there to serve needs of organization.

But what if we invert this pyramid and put the customer on top? After all, isn’t it the customers who make paydays possible? If we invert the pyramid, the customers are on top – followed by the employees, supervisors, managers, vice presidents, and followed by the CEO at the bottom.

In the traditional pyramid, those on the bottom focus on meeting the needs of those on the next rung. Employees try to meet the needs of their supervisors. Supervisors try to meet the needs of their managers, etc., all the way to vice presidents trying to please the CEO. The customers somehow are lost in this process.

IMG_1914If you invert the pyramid and put the CEO at the bottom and the customer on top, you’ve inverted the relationship. The CEO must focus on meeting the needs of the vice presidents, the needs of the managers, etc. all the way through the employees on meeting the needs of the customers.

If you proposed this idea in your organization, you’re likely to hear the question – “Who came up with this crazy idea?”

The answer is Robert Greenleaf and the leadership model is Servant Leadership.

Greenleaf came up with the idea of Servant Leadership after reading Hermann Hesse’s book Journey to the East, the story of a mountainous expedition that fell apart when Leo, one of the servants to the group, disappeared. Greenleaf realized that although everyone thought of Leo as a servant, he was actually leading the expedition through his actions.

The core premise of Servant Leadership is that organizations function best when leaders focus not on having their needs met, but focus on meeting the legitimate needs of others. The CEO should not ask “what do I need done today?” But rather, “what can I do today to help others do their jobs” and ultimately serve the customer.

By focusing on the needs of others, a servant leader becomes a servant first. The servant leader does not rely on formal authority; the ability to dictate and command what others are to do. Rather, they lead through informal authority, creating a willingness on the part of others to follow voluntarily.

Leaders gain informal authority not through the organization chart, but through their actions; the willingness to focus on the legitimate needs of others and to do what must be done.

The servant leader then uses this informal authority to get others to work enthusiastically toward the goals of the organization. A servant example, not fiat.

Bill_Hettinger_Headshot2_square

About the Author

William S. Hettinger, Ph.D., is an author, educator and consultant to educational institutions and corporations both large and small.

Dr. Hettinger is an expert in making the complex simple. In his teaching and consulting, he excels at taking in both complex concepts and technical material and translating them into simple, understandable language. As an educator, Dr. Hettinger has trained numerous students in leadership, research, communications, business and entrepreneurship. His latest book is Online Classes That Work! Discovering the Secrets to Teaching Online (2014, Effective E-Learning)

21st Century Leaders

Have you seen the “news” lately? If so, then you have been inundated with images of people needing our help. Lately, we have witnessed a conflagration of serious ethical conundrums. We are constantly seeing local officials flailing during important press conferences, national politicians trying to explain why they continue failing to serve the best interests of the American people, a cantankerous NBA sports team owner who continues to dig his family further into an inescapable abyss of wretched behavior, and we also see how preventable violence in our beloved Nutmeg state continues to weigh down the strong moral fabric which once existed in our neighborhoods. All of this is enough to make us ask two questions.

Where are the role models?

Why don’t we have ethics in our culture anymore?

_U7C6625Well, thankfully, these two difficult questions have very easy answers! In fact, just this past month we saw firsthand how our College’s role models successfully matriculated through the vibrant leadership program. During our most recent round of Capstone presentations, six graduate students put on full display how they are changing our communities for the better.

Jerica Ortiz and Keshia Tigner presented an exciting program titled Stir Up the Gifts Arts Academy. The academy empowers volunteers to serve as teachers who will train our adolescents to find their voices through meaningful arts and civic curriculums.

Rey Ali, Mike Donegan and Kevin Glenn developed a ready-to-use curriculum for newly-hired and seasoned employees who are interested in developing a sound culture within the workplace. Their Leadership Through Emersion course gives companies the ability to build upon the foundation of their leadership corps from the ground up, instead of from the top down. This new pedagogical method ensures that employees recognize that they are true leaders, no matter the current rank they may hold within an organization’s hierarchy.

Fr. Santhosh Syriac gave us all a glimpse into what he is developing for his community in India. Through the spirit of “Anugraha” [grace] he is changing the culture of his homeland one convalescent home at a time. Fr. Syriac and his peers recognize that the old ways of taking care of India’s expanding elderly population need real progressive change. By challenging current methodologies and cultivating healthcare officials, he has brought out the best core values that are taught at Albertus Magnus College.

These six impressive scholars took the theories they learned from their Master of Arts in Leadership courses and put those lessons into praxis. Their willingness to take part in the Capstone exercise afforded them the ability to affect positive social change in our universe, while simultaneously becoming the ethical leaders we all hope to see portrayed in nightly news stories. Our community is in a much better place, because these students unselfishly “shared the fruits of their contemplation’s” with our world.

The great Mahatma Gandhi said quite simply “Be the change you want to see in the world!” It is in that spirit that I salute these six students who made sacrifices so that we could witness true servant leadership in the making. We are all better people due to the work these scholars have put forward for the benefit of others. It is indeed my honor to know them and to call them tremendous colleagues!

karreem-mebaneKarreem Mebane, MAR
Philosophy And Religion Lecturer

Cultivating Exemplary Leadership Part Two

The following excerpt is derived from the forthcoming manuscript, “Lead Me Out to the Ballgame:  Stories and Strategies to Develop Major League Leadership,” which is being written by Dr. Howard Fero and his colleague, Dr. Rebecca Herman.  The work is based on more than 100 interviews, conducted with current and former Major League Baseball players and managers. To follow their progress, their research, and to discuss baseball and leadership, please ‘like’ their Facebook page.

“I don’t care how long you’ve been in this game or what kind of success you’ve had in this game; every day you have to gain their trust, and every day you have to gain their respect.”

Davey Johnson, as Manager of the Washington Nationals

RESPECT

Respect … it is hard to hear or read that word without a vision of Aretha Franklin belting it out; it is something that we all seem to crave and sometimes wonder if we will ever earn enough of it.  As Aretha said, we need to “find out what it means to me,” and to us, even more significant, is finding out what it means to the organization or team as a whole.  How does a manager having the respect of his players impact their commitment and play?  How does a player having the respect of his manager impact the team?  And how does respecting your organization impact the work that you do?  Rodney Dangerfield spent his career proclaiming, “I get no respect,” and as you read ahead, think about the respect you get, the respect you give, and the impact it has on the players in your life.

RESPECT THE POSITION

There is a basic notion when discussing leadership that people follow others who have power. This concept, however, needs a little explanation in that power does not and should not come from a people’s positions alone, but should come from who they are and what they do. The power should come from the person, not the position.  It’s true, as Ned Yost, manager of the KC Royals pointed out, “when you become a manager, right off the bat you garner respect because you’re a manager.”  This is the positional power we mentioned above, and a power that many people throughout the world rely upon.  This type of power, however, only goes so far.  As Yost continues, “you’ve got to earn that ‘respect’ every single day.”  We may get a person’s respect from our position initially, but we will either keep it or lose it depending on our actions once we are there. Following a leader or a manager solely because one is in charge will take us far enough to avoid getting reprimanded or far enough to do a good job.  Following people because we respect them and what they stand for will bring us to levels of performance that will lead to greater personal and in turn greater organizational success.

THE RIGHT FIT

What’s important to point out in regard to respecting the manager (or for that matter, respecting the players, the team, or the game in general) is that the first step in cultivating a culture of respect is putting together a team comprised of people with not only the ability to hit a ball, make a play, or throw strikes, but a team of people with a moral compass, a team of people who have drive and character, a team of people who want to be there and will do what is necessary to support the team as a whole. Talent is important, but fit is vital.  We as leaders need to, as Jim Collins points out, “start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats” (Collins, 2001).

EARN IT

The task of cultivating the respect of his players, as a Major League manager must do, is not any different from earning the respect of an employee or a colleague in any organization, so how does one do this? Well, to borrow a line from the Smith Barney commercials and John Houseman from the 1980s, “he earns it!”  Sean Burroughs, who we spoke to when he was a member of the Minnesota Twins, pointed to honesty and openness as two of the things which lead him to respecting his managers. A manager needs to be honest with his players about their position on the team, what is expected to them, and what they need to do to succeed.  They need to be “true to their word, and true to what they preach.”  As infielder Eric Hosner of the Kansas City Royals told us, “the players notice that, and then ‘they’ gain a lot more respect.”

A CULTURE OF RESPECT

Having respect for the manager, having a manager who respects his or her people, having respect for the organization you work for, and having a respect for what you as an individual are doing…these ingredients together are what will bring out the best from the individual and in turn from the organization as a whole.  A culture of respect will lead to success on and off the field, in and out of the workplace, and with all those who see the individual and who he or she represents.

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Dr. Howard Fero with Washington Nationals Manager Davey Johnson.

Howard C. Fero, Ph.D.
The Leadership Doc
Director, Graduate Leadership Programs
Associate Professor of Business and Leadership
Albertus Magnus College

Dr. Huntitled2oward Fero, is an Associate Professor of Business and Leadership and the Director of Graduate Leadership programs at Albertus Magnus College. When not teaching classes and overseeing the Leadership programs at Albertus Dr. Fero uses his expertise to help individuals and organizations achieve optimal performance and effectiveness as The Leadership Doc. Dr. Fero will be blogging about different leadership topics throughout the year and speaks about these topics in his classes in the Master of and Arts in Leadership Master of Science in Management and Organizational Leadership Programs. He welcomes your comments and looks forward to communicating with you in our exciting new blog.