Becoming A Servant Leader - Part Two

August 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Adam DeGraide - Also by this author

In a recent article, I discussed a definition of leadership that came from one of Ken Blanchard’s books. He is the co-author of The One-Minute Manager, Raving Fans and now The Servant Leader and he 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.”

If you, like me, reflect on your own success as a leader from time to time, you may find yourself measuring your ability to shape what others think, do and say as they travel their life path towards their goals. I like to boil it down even further and ask myself, “Are you a Servant Leader or a Self-Serving Leader?” The answer often compels me to revisit 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 the last article, I shared some ideas for preparing your heart and in this article, I will share ideas for preparing the head to fulfill the role of Servant Leader within your dealership and even within your family and community.

HEAD: What We Think
If the journey of Servant Leadership starts in the heart with motivation and intent, it then must travel through another internal domain, that of the head, which is the leader’s belief system and perspective on leadership. All great leaders have a specific leadership point of view and belief system that defines how they see their role and their relationships with those they seek to influence.

Our belief system is shaped by our past experiences, our attitudes and feelings, our perceptions, our capacity for critical thinking and our education. What we think is impacted by what we feed our mind: garbage in = garbage out. To make a positive impact on what we think, it helps to surround ourselves with positive people, positive experiences and useful data. It helps to find a role model who has the vision to do the right thing and, from an implementation standpoint, has the ability to do things right.

Leadership vision is comprised of your purpose or mission, how you view the future and the values that determine how you want people to behave while they are working on your mission and vision of the future. Values are important because they define what you stand for, and true success in servant leadership depends on how clearly they are defined, ordered and lived by the leader.

Living according to the vision (the implementation role) is where most leaders and dealerships can get into trouble. Effective implementation requires turning the traditional hierarchy of a dealership upside down so that the customers and the folks on the front line are at the top of the organization with all of the tools and resources needed to do their job while the leaders serve the needs of the employees, helping them to accomplish the vision and direction of the dealership.

I hope this article has given you some fresh ideas to prepare your head. Look for follow up articles that give ideas for preparing your hands to fulfill your role of servant leadership.

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