Serving on a Board – Part 3

Making a Case for Servant Leadership

We have covered the role of a body or group of leaders known as a board. And we have covered the role of the individual within that body. Now it is time for the secret sauce if there is such a thing. From my perspective, the secret sauce is servant leadership.

What is Servant Leadership?

While the idea of servant leadership goes back multiple millennia, the modern servant leadership movement was given voice by Robert K. Greenleaf in 1970 with the publication of his essay, The Servant as Leader. Greenleaf defined the servant-leader as follows:

“The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions. The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.”

The more recent application of servant leadership to business and industry has taken the form of focusing on a set of behaviors and practices that turn the traditional “power leadership” model upside down. Rather than the followers working to serve the leader, the leader actually exists to serve the followers. Servant leadership is centered on a desire to serve and emphasizes collaboration, trust, empathy, and the ethical use of power. Its primary goal is to enhance individual growth, teamwork and overall organizational involvement and satisfaction.

Why Servant Leadership?

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Serving on a Board – Part 2

What is YOUR role?

 

Help! I was just elected to serve on a board. Has that ever happened to you? If so, then I have some more guidance for you this week. 

Last week I took a look at the role of a board. I chose to look at it from the perspective of the purpose that it is supposed to fulfill. The article really dealt with the types of boards and the functions of boards serving non-profit organizations. This week, I want to look at what you and I must do if we are called upon to serve on a board.

Quick Review

There are three board functions that we covered. In summary, they are to advise, to consent, and to lead. 

Advise — To advise means to offer suggestions about the best way to operate or the best course of action to take. The one being advised is under no obligation to accept the advice and the one providing it cannot mandate that it be accepted and implemented.

Consent — To consent means to give permission for something to happen. In theory, nothing happens without that consent. And that is where some problems begin in the non-profit world. Many a strong or controlling leader has made a consenting board into a “rubber stamp” board by packing it with friendly and like-minded individuals. 

Lead — To lead means to operate and execute the day to day operations of the organization. And the board leads the organization itself through the insightful creation of strategies, plans, policies, and practices that increase the scope and span of the non-profit organization.

Focus on the Non-Profit Board Member

You have been elected to serve. Now what? You know the three basic functions that a board provides for an organization. But, what happens at the individual level? The answer is simple. And it is the same as at the board level. You are there to give your advice, to give your consent, and to lead the organization. That leadership may be a solo activity at times. But it is a function that you must be able to provide.

Advising — You are there to provide input. That input is just another word for advice. You are there to list to be sure. But you are there to speak. A completely silent board member is a wasted chair at the table. That sounds harsh and I realize that. But, if you just sit and observe what goes on and never contribute, then you are taking the place of someone who would be willing to do offer solutions to the challenges that most organizations face. I hope that the board that you serve on has a commissioning ceremony or some other occasion to mark the start of your tenure. But if not, don’t wait to be charged. Begin as soon as you can to contribute to the collective wisdom that rests within the board.

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What Does Leadership Feel Like?

Is there a leadership “feeling”?

I just couldn’t resist one more article in this series. This last one will deal with how leadership feels — both for the leader and the follower.

Maybe it is more of a “groove” than just a feeling. Maybe it is really nothing more than leadership “mojo.” But, there is an undeniable feeling when you are called to lead and you lead well. So, let’s take a look at how it feels for both the leader and the follower.

How it feels to lead well

Perhaps here is where the word “mojo” fits more than it does for the follower. The feeling that you have when you are leading a team through a project that no one else thought would have a chance of succeeding is almost euphoric. The feeling that you feel when you are communicating clearly and communicating with passion and your team is converting your words into actions is energizing. Perhaps the greatest benefit of those feelings is that they build our confidence and reinforce the sense that we are indeed in the right place at the right time.

However, all of this so far is predicated on the fact that we are leading and succeeding. But, what if we are leading and struggling? What if we are confident in our leadership, but the results are a reason to doubt? How do we deal with those feelings?

It is here that we need to move from feelings, which may be fleeting, and focus on the tried and true leadership principles that have served us well in times past. Focus on the tasks at hand and trust that the “warm” feelings will come with the ultimate success of the project. One of the factors that set great leaders apart is that they do what they know is right and then wait to feel good about the decision. Many wait until they feel good about a decision and then act based on that feeling.

What kinds of feelings do you experience?

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Leadership After the Initial Crisis

When the Cameras Have Found Another Hero to Follow

Thank you to all of you who called, texted, emailed, and reached out to me through various social media channels last week to check on our safety. We came through Hurricane Harvey “high and dry.” But so many in our area cannot say that. Keep praying for them and give anything that you can for the relief and recovery process after Hurricane Harvey.

My most recent article was written in the midst and immediate aftermath of the hurricane. Rescues were still ongoing. And heroes were emerging from all over the city. And I was particularly moved by the exploits of my friend, David. He was a hero. He was a leader.

But he is a warrior. People’s lives were in danger. It is the natural thing for him to rush into dangerous situations and save lives. The TV networks have moved on to the next scandal in Washington and most are headed to Florida for the next hurricane. So, what is David up to?

What does a leader do after the initial crisis has passed?

I don’t know what all leaders do. But let me tell you some more about David. He is an entrepreneur. He is a husband. He is a dad. He is the very picture of a busy person. He is probably too busy for his own good sometimes. He has a business to run and a family to care for.

So, naturally, he is back to business as usual. No! As I follow him today on Facebook, he is actively doing the messy, stinky, filthy, dusty, musty, gross job of cleaning out friends, family, and strangers houses. He is as active today as he was during the search and rescue phase.

What is the leadership Lesson?

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Why Would Anyone Want YOU To Lead Them?

A Question of Leadership in Terms of "Followship"

why-would-anyone-want-you-to-lead-them

Halloween has just ended and the airwaves are full of Christmas music. Are we just going to bypass Thanksgiving altogether? I certainly hope not. Thanksgiving is a time of reflection for me. It reminds me that the year is nearly over.

At this time of year, many leaders and leadership teams are taking their annual step back to do a deep-dive assessment of their organization’s progress against the goals and objectives of their strategic plans that they established in the early days of 2016. (What? You don’t do that at your organization? Have you ever considered that maybe that is part of what is holding the organization back?)

Take A Look on the Inside

As part of your end-of-year strategic progress review, consider including another area of assessment — one that will require a different kind of evaluation and one that will be much more introspective in nature. Why not take some time to also consider how you personally are progressing as a leader? After all, an organization’s strategic performance is, in large part, a direct reflection of the effectiveness of the person at the top.

If you want to silence a room of pastors, executives or any group of leaders try this small trick. Ask them, “Why would anyone want you to lead them?”

Without fail, the response will most likely be a sudden, stunned hush. All you will hear are knees knocking and crickets chirping.

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Be Respectable and Be Respectful

Leadership Basics

be-respectable-be-respectful

Are you worthy of respect as a leader? Are you respectful of your followers and those around you? Those are the two topics to consider today as we continue this series of Leadership Basics.

The Respectable Part

Let’s deal with being a person worthy of respect first.

I have often heard the phrase “He just commands respect.” What does that mean? Does it literally mean that I can command you to respect me? How do we gain respect from others? We earn it! So, how do we go about earning respect and being a respectable leader?

How Do You Treat Others? – This very question is dealt with in the second part below where I will discuss being respectful. But, respectFUL leaders are respectABLE leaders.

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The Leader in the Second Chair

What kind of leader do you aspire to be?

the-leader-in-the-2nd-chair

We are in an ugly political season. In fact, it may be the ugliest one in my lifetime. So, in light of that and from a political perspective, one of the political leaders that I admired the most was Sen. Howard Baker of Tennessee.

I have been giving a lot of thought about the topic of “Leading from the Second Chair”. Although I have not yet read Bonem and Patterson’s book by that name, I have seen a lot of that type of leadership in my own life and in the life of some of those who I admire greatly.

His was the very first presidential campaign that I worked on was as a young volunteer. Unfortunately, I was a part of his unsuccessful attempt to become President in 1979. I admired Sen. Baker on multiple levels. Others admired him as well. Known in Washington, D.C. as the “Great Conciliator”, Baker is often regarded as one of the most successful senators in terms of brokering compromises, enacting legislation, and maintaining civility across the aisle. A story is sometimes told of a reporter telling a senior Democratic senator that privately, a plurality of his Democratic colleagues would vote for Baker for President of the United States. Unfortunately, in my opinion, not enough Americans apparently shared that same sentiment.

Some of the times during his career that I admired him the most were his days as White House Chief of Staff for Ronald Reagan. Reagan was the opponent who defeated him early in the primary season and caused him to drop out after the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire Primary.

Baker did not seek re-election in 1984. However, as a testament to Baker’s skill as a negotiator and honest and amiable broker, Reagan tapped him to serve as Chief of Staff during part of Reagan’s second term (1987–1988). Many saw this as a move by Reagan to mend relations with the Senate, which had deteriorated somewhat under the previous chief of staff, Donald Regan. It is interesting to note that in accepting this appointment as Chief of Staff, Baker chose to skip another bid for the White House in 1988. He would never run again. Who knows if he would have been successful? I, for one, would have loved to have seen him elected in 1988 over the alternative that year.

The Leadership Principle

So what is the leadership principle that I admired in Sen. Baker? Well, I think it is embodied in these two principles.

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Be Generous

Three Things That Generous Leaders Share

Be Generous

Leaders that folks want to follow are generous by nature. That doesn’t mean they give you money. That means that they have a giving spirit or a generous heart.

Generosity is a word with a historical meaning that is lost today. It once referred to one’s nobility of birth and the obligation toward those of lesser means and lower standing. There was a cultural expectation that leaders (nobility) would behave in certain ways that would demonstrate their worthiness.

But before we can identify the behaviors of a generous leader, we need to identify the motivations of a generous leader. Generous leaders are motivated by the success (whatever that looks like) of those around them. Generous leaders lead the way that they do because they place a high value on the overall success of those who follow them.  On the other hand, leaders who are motivated by their own success tend to measure their achievements in terms of their compensation package, the power in their position, the status as compared to those in their peer group, and whatever recognition they can garner.

Generous leaders hold themselves to different standards. Generous leaders value their empowerment of others, their service to their organization, and their relationships with their followers.

Generous leaders give in ways that are not always measured in terms of dollars.  They are generous on many levels. They usually are generous with their money.  They are often the benefactors of many charitable or ministry organizations.  And they are often the ones behind the anonymous gifts that their followers find at just the right time. But they are also generous with their time as well as their talents.

What does a generous leader look like?

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Help Others Get What They Want

Is that the best way to get what we want?

Help Others Get What They Want

“Your function in life may not feel like it has anything to do with sales, but when we deal with others it matters to remember that the best way to get the outcome we want is to help others get the outcome they want.”

This was a statement that I made about a photo meme that I posted on Facebook. It sparked a brief dialog with a close friend and one of the driving forces behind LeadershipVoices.com. And it has caused me to share some more thoughts that further develop my original post.  But first, here is the question that prompted my additional thoughts.

The Question

How do I do that when our wants are sometimes at cross-purposes? Or, what if what they want is detrimental to the health of the organization?

The Answers

There are some problems in life we can’t solve.

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Knowing Your Place

When Leaders Act Differently Than We Expect

Knowing Your Place

It was the last night of my stay at the very luxurious Ritz-Carlton in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Apparently someone had alerted the General Manager that I would be leaving very early the following morning. So, he came to my dinner table in the dining room to introduce himself and to say “Thank you” for my extended stay It had been a 3 and a half week stay at his hotel. It was soon after our brief discussion ended that I saw an extraordinary example of true servant leadership.

A woman was struggling with a large balloon bouquet and a suitcase. In addition to the most senior person in the hotel, there were several other general staff in the very near vicinity. They probably saw her as well. And then he did it.

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