Becoming A Servant Leader - Part One

August 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Adam DeGraide - Also by this author

How do you define leadership? Ken Blanchard, co-author of The One-Minute Manager, Raving Fans and The Servant Leader, defines leadership as “an influence process—any time you are trying to influence the thoughts and actions of others toward goal accomplishment in either their personal or professional life you are engaging in leadership.”

I like this definition because any time I reflect on my own success as a leader, I find myself measuring my ability to shape what others think, do and say as they travel their life path towards their goals. For a real gut-check, I take this definition one step further and ask myself, “Are you a servant leader or a self-serving leader?” The answer often compels me to re-visit my leadership preparation habits since the quality of my service is a direct result of my daily preparation. My leadership preparation habits fall into three categories: The Heart (what we feel), The Head (what we think) and The Hands (what we do.) In this article, I will share some ideas for preparing your heart and in future articles I will share ideas for preparing the head and hands to fulfill the role of servant leader within your dealership and even within your family and community.

HEART: What We Feel

Servant leadership begins in the heart by seeking to lead for a higher purpose. The purpose of servant leadership goes beyond success and social significance to approach leadership as an act of service from the perspective of what we can give rather than what we can get.

Sounds easy, but leadership for the purpose of serving others will fail if we fall prey to false pride and fear. Close examination of failed leadership efforts usually reveal a self-serving leader who has been drawn by pride into taking too much credit, showing off and demanding attention, or by fear that compels us to protect ourselves, hide behind a title, intimidate others, discourage honest feedback and ultimately become known as a control freak.

The results of pride and fear are predictable and always distort the truth into either a false sense of security or a lack of confidence and diminished self-worth. Taking time to identify your fears and sources of false pride can set the groundwork for breaking their negative impact on your relationships and effectiveness as a leader. When you name your demons they lose their power over you, because taming the fear and pride in our hearts brings us one step closer to taming our thoughts and actions.

The servant leader works continuously to tame any addiction to personal pride. To accomplish this it helps to ask some hard questions:

  • Do I think of myself more often than I think of others?
  • Who is my primary audience in life—my purpose, myself, or others?
  • Have I developed a habit of giving?
  • Can I participate in a group without taking charge?
  • Can I enjoy things and successes in life without owning them?
  • Do I use plain, honest speech, letting “yes” be yes and “no” be no?
  • Do I reject that which breeds oppression in others?
  • Do I shun anything that distracts me from my larger mission in life?

I hope this article has helped you with ideas to prepare your heart. Look for follow-up articles that give ideas for preparing your head and your hands to fulfill your role of servant leadership.

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