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Becoming A Servant leader - Part Three

August 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Adam DeGraide - Also by this author

This is the third and final article in a series of three articles about Servant Leadership. The series was sparked by a definition of leadership that comes 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?” Sometimes the answer 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 first two articles, I shared some ideas for preparing your heart and your head, and in this article, I will wrap up with some ideas for preparing the hands to fulfill the role of Servant Leader within your dealership and even within your family and community.

HANDS: What You Do

Once you feel and understand the concepts, are you really willing to change your behavior to become a better servant leader? Making a change in behavior is easier when we understand the dynamics of change. Change is a given, it will happen. Your organization will adapt or die. Leaders can ease the transition by understanding the seven reactions people have to change.

  1. People can feel uncomfortable, awkward and self-conscious when faced with change, so tell them what to expect.
  2. People will feel alone, even if every one else in the dealership is going through the same change, so it helps to structure activities that create involvement.
  3. People will immediately think about what they have to give up, so let people mourn the perceived loss and listen to them before selling them on the benefits of the change.
  4. People may have limits to how much change they can handle, so set priorities on which changes to make first and make a plan for going the distance.
  5. People will be concerned they do not have enough resources (time, tools, technology or skills) to implement the change, so encourage creative problem solving and be prepared to invest in your vision.
  6. People will demonstrate different levels of readiness for any particular change, so recognize that some are natural risk takers while others need more time and information to feel secure. Do not label or pick on people; those who are early adapters in one situation may drag their feet in another type of change.
  7. If accountability is removed, people will revert to old behaviors so track and measure your performance results and build in a system of rewards.

The Servant Leader works continuously to overcome the demon of fear. Here are some questions that will dissipate the power of fear:

  • What’s an accurate assessment of the situation?
  • What’s really at risk? What’s secure?
  • How much of the danger is imagined?
  • What short-term action is required and what help is available?

When confronted with pride or fear, always remember to apply trust, faith, hope and love as often as needed.

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