Servant Leadership BY JAMES HESKETT

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With servant leadership, a leader’s primary role is to serve employees. Everyone from Lao-Tzu to Max De Pree thinks this a wonderful model. Why, then, is this style so rare among CEOs? HBS Professor James Heskett ponders the topic in this column, which first appeared on the HBS Working Knowledge website.

Servant leadership is an age-old concept, a term loosely used to suggest that a leader’s primary role is to serve others, especially employees. I witnessed a practical example of it at a ServiceMaster board meeting in the 1990s when CEO William Pollard spilled a cup of coffee prior to the board meeting.

Instead of summoning someone to clean it up, he asked a colleague to get him cleaning compound and a cloth, things easily found in a company that provided cleaning services. Whereupon he proceeded to get down on his hands and knees to clean up the spill himself. The remarkable thing was that board members and employees alike hardly noticed as he did it. It was as if it was expected in a company with self-proclaimed servant leadership.

Lao-Tzu wrote about servant leadership in the fifth-century BC: “The highest type of ruler is one of whose existence the people are barely aware…. The Sage is self-effacing and scanty of words. When his task is accomplished and things have been completed, all the people say, ‘We ourselves have achieved it!’”

It is natural, rightly or wrongly, to relate servant leadership to the concept of an inverted pyramid organization in which top management “reports” upward to lower levels of management. At other times it has been associated with organizations that have near-theological values (for example, Max De Pree’s leadership at Herman Miller, as expressed in his book, Leadership is an Art, that emphasizes the importance of love, elegance, caring, and inclusivity as central elements of management). In that regard, it is also akin to the pope’s annual washing and kissing of the feet as part of the Holy Thursday rite.
The modern era of servant leadership began with a paper, The Servant as Leader, written by Robert Greenleaf in 1970. In it, he said: “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 … (vs. one who is leader first…) … The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons … (and become) more likely themselves to become servants?”

Now it appears that a group of organizational psychologists, led by Adam Grant, are attempting to measure the impact of servant leadership on leaders, not just those being led. Grant describes research in his recent book, Give and Take, that suggests that servant leaders are not only more highly regarded than others by their employees and not only feel better about themselves at the end of the day but are more productive as well. His thesis is that servant leaders are the beneficiaries of important contacts, information, and insights that make them more effective and productive in what they do even though they spend a great deal of their time sharing what they learn and helping others through such things as career counseling, suggesting contacts, and recommending new ways of doing things.

Further, servant leaders don’t waste much time deciding to whom to give and in what order. They give to everyone in their organizations. Grant concludes that giving can be exhausting but also self-replenishing. So in his seemingly tireless efforts to give, described in the book, Grant makes it a practice to give to everyone until he detects a habitual “taker” that can be eliminated from his “gift list.”
Servant leadership is only one approach to leading, and it isn’t for everyone. But if servant leadership is as effective as portrayed in recent research, why isn’t it more prevalent? What do you think?

To Read More:
Max De Pree, Leadership is an Art (East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 1987)
Adam Grant, Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success (New York: Viking Press, 2013)
Robert K. Greenleaf, The Servant as Leader (Westfield, IN: The Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, 2008)
C. William Pollard, The Soul of the Firm (New York: HarperBusiness and Grand Rapids, MI: ZondermanPublishingHouse, 1996)

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10 Character Traits of Elite Achievers

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by Gary Korisko. (http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/10-character-traits-of-elite-achievers/)

If you have ever worked really hard toward reaching a goal only to get average results, you know how horrible it feels. And to rub salt in the wound, there are usually a few elite achievers who seemingly work no harder than you who absolutely crush that same goal. It’s frustrating, confusing, and a blow to your ego. I get it.

And you know what? You’re right – those elite achievers probably aren’t working any harder than you. The difference is that elite achievers have figured out the right things to work hard at. Bear with me here.

It’s all too easy to get bogged down in over-planning, procrastination, and self-doubt. These things are time and energy suckers. You can literally waste days, weeks, and months on these types of unproductive behaviors – and not realize it until it’s too late.

While the average spend time and effort on unproductive tasks, elite achievers spend their time on tasks that move them toward their goals.

There’s good news, though. Elite achievers don’t have a secret weapon or some sort of productivity pill. They’ve just developed certain character traits that make it easier to crush their goals.
That means you could be just one or two small adjustments away from joining the ranks of the elite achievers.

Join The Ranks

After decades in sales management, I have observed that all elite achievers share certain character traits. Adopt these ten traits of elite achievers. Put them to work – and watch your goals become much more attainable.

1. Spend Your Time on Implementation
Busy work isn’t always effective work. Don’t confuse the two. Average people spend their time and energy coming up with, rehashing, and discussing ideas. Elite achievers are motivated to spend their time on implementation of ideas. They know that while ideas are the seeds of results, in and of themselves, they are just ideas until they’re acted upon. A brilliant idea unexecuted is worthless. Results come from action.

2. Have Several Back-Up Plans.
Waiting for the perfect plan or tool is insanity. “Perfect” never shows up. Successful people always have a back-up plan…or two…or three. The elite achievers are ready for the unexpected and can roll with the punches when the unexpected occurs.

3. Create Opportunities
As the rest of the world waits, hopes, and wishes for opportunity – elite achievers know that real opportunity is created. Elite achievers reach out to others, spread the word, and step up to the plate. They create opportunity by letting the world know who they are, what they do, and how they can help. And when they create an opportunity, they fully take advantage of it.

4. Dislike, But Tolerate Failure.
While the masses tend to sit back and stew over their plan because there is a chance they could fail and look stupid, elite achievers forge ahead. They know that while failure certainly sucks, it’s not fatal. And each time they fail, they get a little smarter. Elite achievers understand that the small risk of temporarily looking stupid is outweighed by the possibility of real, permanent success.

5. Become “Strong Like Bull”
Elite achievers are tough. We all want people to like us – but guess what? No matter what you do, no matter how wonderful you are – someone is going to dislike you. Elite achievers understand this. Recently I had someone badmouth my writing because I began a post with the word “so.” Guess how much sleep I lost over that one? (none) The elite achievers know they will occasionally fail, that people are going to dislike them sometimes, and that it will hurt a little. By constantly striving for improvement and expecting a little pain along the way, they know that it hurts much less.

6. Find Out For Yourself – Don’t Listen To The Herd
The mediocre crowd has a tendency to believe conventional assumptions about: Themselves, their industry, their product, and their potential. Elite achievers take the time to find out for themselves. They do research, they think outside the box, they consult trusted advisors. Elite achievers couldn’t care less what the nay-sayers think, because they’ve done the legwork.

7. Give Selflessly

This one may come as a surprise, but truly elite achievers are actually pretty selfless people. They leave “greedy” and “selfish” for the bottom feeders. The elite give their time and knowledge generously because it’s the right thing to do…and because it demonstrates integrity, sincerity, and credibility. Winners give.

8. Develop Ego Strength
The elite don’t second guess their decisions. When they have a good plan, they do their research so they can have full confidence in going after their goals full-tilt. They ignore the less evolved who tell them that they can’t do it. Elite achievers ignore negative people and remain confident in their plan.

9. Form A Brain Trust With Other Elite Achievers

Elite achievers know that regardless of how smart and hard-working they are, they can’t possibly catch every little detail. This is why they seek the company of other achievers. They regularly consult their brain trust, ask for their input, and take their advice. They find people whose opinions they can trust and stay in contact regularly to hash through their successes, failures, and obstacles.

10. Keep Going Until You Get There.
The average person throws in the towel when they run into obstacles – and that’s a shame. Elite achievers know that obstacles just indicate a closer proximity to success. If they fail, elite achievers just tweak their plan and go after their goal again and again until they reach it. There is only one direction: Forward.
Spend some time with this list. I’ll bet you can identify one or more areas that might be slowing you down and affecting your productivity. Begin replacing some of those bad, time-wasting habits with their more productive counterparts and start becoming an elite achiever.

Gary Korisko (@RebootAuthentic) writes about business strategy, market creation, and integrity selling on his blog Reboot Authentic. His eBook, How To Alienate All The Right People, is a real-world guide to breaking away from the herd and doing something special.