Servant Leadership

Knowing That Leadership Has a Rhythm of Growth and Loss Holds One to Hope By Dr. Jeanie Cockell and Dr. Joan McArthur-Blair


How is your leadership journey going? In our ever changing world being an effective leader is a daily challenge. Building Resilience with Appreciative Inquiry by Dr. Jeanie Cockwell and Dr. Joan McArthur-Blair is a new book that speaks to leadership journeys with hope, during despair, and with forgiveness. Here is an some insightful information from the authors to help you become the leader that you were meant to be.

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By Dr. Jeanie Cockell and Dr. Joan McArthur-Blair

The hope of the gardener described in the next story is a wonderful metaphor for the place that hope dwells—a place that enables and encourages leaders to sow the earth knowing that some things will grow and some will flounder. Leaders repeatedly begin again and resow, knowing that the wind, rain, and sun can be nurturing friends or destructive foes. Sometimes leaders retrace their steps to find things they should have understood, and other times they strike out in new directions. In the garden, there is both hope and its shadow. Hope holds in its hands the soft earth as it readies it for planting; hope is open to the possible and deeply feels the moment of beginning, not the prediction of the end state. A leader described her leadership life as a gardener this way:

I am a gardener—one who nurtures, tends, plants, cultivates, and harvests. I am a leader who inspires, creates, celebrates, encourages, and invests. Gardeners and leaders have many skills and talents and values in common. Great gardeners are full of hope. It is genuine and considered hope that is the essence of how I see myself as a gardener and a leader. This is a hope that is based in reverence for life in its deepest and most profound meaning.

Some of my earliest memories of hope involve planting radish seeds as a small girl and waiting impatiently for them to sprout. I can still feel and smell the soil and relive the joy of the first shoots. In a similar manner, I can still visualize my first formal leadership role in my Brownie pack. The possibilities of making a difference, of helping others with their badges, of teaching them the rituals, of being there for them when they forgot their tams or scarves. Hope for the future was the essence of these early experiences.

The lessons of the gardener inform me in the lessons of leadership. Sometimes, despite all the necessary prep of soil, nutrients, seed selection, etc., the seeds blow away, the plant withers, and the bugs attack or the bloom fades before it flowers. The ground is fallow for periods of time and only a few stalks blow in the wind. I prepare again, gather more information, and make selections, try different nutrients, check the weather, except that for me roses do not do well—concentrate on daisies. This is hope. Next time, the garden will be great, it will be different, and it will grow.

My leadership is embedded in the hope of the gardener—learning to accept, to rethink, to reimagine, to redo, to undo, knowing that tomorrow is another opportunity full of possibilities and potential to discover and celebrate.

I have loved every job I have ever had—some lasted longer than others. In some positions there was more to plant, more to nurture, and more learning to be had. I have chosen to change jobs based on my assessment of the possibilities for growth for myself and others.

Much as a gardener decides their type of garden. All my life, I have been associated with some aspect of education, whether it be teaching pottery, swimming, or anthropology, or facilitating teams, or teaching others to teach and be leaders. For me, education is all about hope—for oneself, for others, and for a different world. It is the hope that sees me through to more possibilities and to uncovering the potential in others and providing me the opportunity to be a small part in realizing the possibility. Finding the seeds, nurturing their beginnings, tending the fragile shoots, staking their stems, and admiring their unique blooming beauty is the gift of hope and the reason to be. I will always be a gardener and revel in the possible, despite stormy weather, dry seasons, scattered seeds, and invasive pests. In leadership, I cherish the hope of the gardener, and this hope inspires my leadership and sees me through the tough times.

The practice of hope in all the multiple tasks of leadership is the recognition that hope can be nurtured in the early stages when the outcome is not known; in the journey along the way, where already some things have floundered and some have grown; and in the final outcome, which might be different than planned. It is undertaking leadership in all of these places with the heart of the gardener that can help sustain hope as the rhythms of growth and loss and the seasons change.

About the authors

Dr. Jeanie Cockell and Dr. Joan McArthur-Blair, co-presidents of leadership consulting firmCockell McArthur-Blair Consulting, are the co-authors ofBuilding Resilience with Appreciative Inquiry. The veteran consultants’ latest book explores how leaders can use the practice of Appreciative Inquiry to weather the storms they'll inevitably encounter and be resilient.

The Importance of Conviction By Jim Haudan and Rich Haudan

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Leadership is an enigma. There are some that feel that they are strong leaders and have everything that it takes to be successful. Their teams don’t agree. Strong leaders know that they always need to work on their leadership skills and are open to learning about what they are missing or what blind spots that they have. Here is a guest post from the new book What Are Your Blind Spots? Conquering the 5 Misconceptions that Hold Leaders Back.

In order to activate purpose at your organization, your leaders must have conviction in that purpose while also being clear on their personal purpose at work. People generally have a desire to bring their best selves to work, but if you or they are not sure what that best self is, it’s hard to consistently bring it or know when and where to apply it. Great organizations don’t just have an organizational purpose, but they bring out personal purpose in individual people as well.

When we talk about personal purpose, we don’t mean an all-encompassing answer to what makes you happy in life. That’s a bonus. We are referring to understanding what makes you happy and most effective at work. As a leader who wants to be truly purpose driven and have teams that are as well, you must ask yourself the following questions:

• Do I know what drives, motivates, and inspires the people working on my team?

• Do I know the core strengths and passions of my team?

• Do I know what each person’s personal best is and understand how to activate it?

• Do I know the personal purpose of the members of my team?

• Do I help individuals bring their purpose to life?

• Do I know how to connect people’s personal purposes to the larger purpose of my organization?

Once you can answer yes and elaborate on each of your answers, you will be ready for a game-changing performance. Simon Sinek wrote in his book Start with Why:

Studies show that over 80 percent of Americans do not have their dream job. If more knew how to build organizations that inspire, we could live in a world in which that statistic was the reverse—a world in which over 80 percent of people loved their jobs. People who love going to work are more productive and more creative. They go home happier and have happier families. They treat their colleagues and clients and customers better. Inspired employees make for stronger companies and stronger economies.

If you want to create an organization in which 80 percent of your people are excited to come to work and are vested in the success of the business, your people need to know and feel that you are fully vested in their success. They need to see how they connect to the purpose of the organization and how their contributions make a difference.

About Jim Haudan

Jim Haudan is Co-Founder and Chairman of Root Inc. Root Inc., the organizational change expert on helping companies create leadership alignment, execute strategies and change successful, build employee engagement, and transform businesses. He is a sought-after business presenter who has spoken at TEDx BGSU, Tampa TEDx, and The Conference Board. His latest book, What Are Your Blind Spots?: Conquering the 5 Misconceptions that Hold Leaders Back is co-authored with Rich Berens is CEO and Chief Client Fanatic of Root Inc. The book equips readers with the tools needed for a personal leadership reset. You’ll discover how to increase engagement, productivity, and growth in your own organization.

About Rich Berens

Rich Berens is CEO and Chief Client Fanatic of Root Inc, and has helped align leaders at Global 2000 organizations to drive strategic and cultural change at scale. He is a noted speaker on the issues of, transformation, and how to create lasting change and has authored articles for numerous publications and blogs. Under Rich’s leadership, Root has been listed among the Great Place to Work® Institute’s top 25 places to work, been named to the Inc. 5000 fastest-growing companies list, and experienced 10 years of consecutive growth. His latest book, What Are Your Blind Spots?: Conquering the 5 Misconceptions that Hold Leaders Back is co-authored with Jim Haudan is Co-Founder and Chairman of Root Inc.

Humble Leadership

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A Case of an Admiral's Humble Leadership by Ed and Peter Schein

Luckily, the hammer approach to leadership has been changing, albeit slowly, over the years. Leaders are becoming more personal, understanding, learning to be servant leaders, and humble. The new book The Future of Leadership by Edgar and Peter Schein offers insight into how leaders need to work smart and be humble. They tackle issues like the power of relationships, openness, and trust. Here is a story of humbleness from a place you wouldn't expect - the military.

We were recently told a memorable story by a retired US Navy admiral that illustrated how “collapsing” the hierarchy and opening the door to Level 2 relationships can sometimes be done quickly and decisively. The admiral, at the time, was in command of a nuclear-powered US Navy aircraft carrier. Effectively, he was the CEO of a 5000-person co-located organization for whom safety and high-quality performance would be top priorities. As a nuclear scientist and naval aviator, his background, experience, and hands-on knowledge suited him exceptionally well for the technical aspects of his mission, yet his instincts as a leader are what this story is about.


There was an incident on the flight deck in which an error in chocks and chains handling, a critical part of aircraft operations, could have endangered lives or caused the loss of very valuable naval aircraft. The error resulted from mishandling by one of the flight deck handlers (a “blue jersey” in aircraft carrier parlance) who reported up to an aircraft handling
officer (a “yellow jersey”).


Given normal Naval hierarchy and protocol, this error would have been recorded, post-mortem debriefed and corrected, and there would have been some degree of reprimand and disciplinary consequences for the blue jersey. The admiral told us that this was not outside of the normal course of aircraft carrier flight deck operations. Complicated things happen, and the US Navy has a few hundred years of organizational knowledge to deal with such incidents. That is, the commanding officer could have let the hierarchy work the problem and the solution, but that is not what happened.


Instead, he invited the blue jersey to the bridge to discuss the incident, just the two of them. One can hardly imagine how that junior chocks and chains handler must have felt, getting called up to the bridge, presumably to get reprimanded directly by the commanding officer. Knowing how critical these intricate details of deck and aircraft handling are to the safety and to the mission of an aircraft carrier, the commanding officer, a pilot himself, wanted to hear directly from the deck what had happened, perhaps why, and certainly how and why it would not happen again. At a deeper level, he cared more about the truth and the process, and far less about the discipline to be applied. The system would take care of that. 


What must that meeting have been like? Was the blue jersey terrified, mortified, contrite, and reconciled? If all of those feelings were present, how would the commanding officer get to the truth of what happened? The admiral told us how he managed to quickly create what we would describe as psychological safety for the deckhand by focusing the conversation on his own curiosity of what had happened and why, making it clear that this meeting was not about punishment but about exploration. The shared goal was for that junior seaman to walk away from the meeting with a dedication to doing it better, not a reprimand for doing it wrong. 

A reprimand would certainly reinforce a commitment to the hierarchy. As commanding officer the admiral wanted commitment to the task, to safety, and to quality performance. With the gesture of calling this meeting, and focusing the dialogue on the person and the truth, he reinforced his commitment to improving the processes that save (or could cost) lives on an aircraft carrier. The visible, personal two-way dialogue demonstrated a commitment to a process that the most senior leaders and the most junior sailors could identify with and learn from.


Stepping back from this case, small acts of Humble Leadership by the admiral may well have been a matter of course in his organization, a culture set by a senior leader that existed before and after this incident. This does not change the story except to amplify the truth that this admiral had a clear sense for the importance of personization, establishing openness and trust, even in a 5000-person hierarchical organization.


LESSON
What is most striking to us about this story is that the existence of a steep and formal hierarchy does not require the persons at the top of that hierarchy to behave in a transactional Level 1 manner. They can choose to personize at any time and at any level, thereby very visibly reinforcing some of the central values that they wish to highlight.


About Authors
Edgar H. Schein is Professor Emeritus from the M.I.T. Sloan School of Management. He’s a pioneer in organizational studies, organizational culture and leadership, process consulting, career development. Ed’s contributions to the practice of O.D. date back to the early 1960s and continue with the recent publication of Organizational Culture and Leadership 5th edition and now Humble Leadership, co-authored with Peter A. Schein, co-founder of OCLI.org who brings 30 years of hands-on experience in large and small companies leading growth initiatives in Silicon Valley.

Knowing the Self Who Leads by Shelly L. Franci

Have you ever found yourself wondering where inner wisdom and courage come from? Have you been in a situation where your real leadership blooms because you know what you value and believe in?

Shelly L. Franci's new book The Courage Way: Leading and Living with Integrity offers soul searching and a path you can take to find your authentic self and bring out your true gifts to impact others. Here is an excerpt from Shelly's new book.

The underlying premise of the Courage Way is that we all have a trustworthy source of inner wisdom that informs our lives and leadership. It is our identity and integrity, the sum of our shadows and light, our true self. Without knowing our true self, we cannot be an authentic leader.

Just as Ed came to recognize, leaders must find clarity about what they value, what unique gifts they have to offer, what contribution they wish to make. Strength and resilience as a leader come from knowing the ground on which you stand, the convictions you will act on with courage. But that’s not all. Resilience comes from being aware of and accepting your limits and what problems your shadows are causing. That is wholeness—and that comes from knowing your true self.

Otto Scharmer, author of Theory U, acknowledges this inner life: “We observe what leaders do. We can observe how they do it, what strategies and processes they deploy. But we can’t see the inner place, the source from which people act when, for example, they operate at the highest possible level, or alternatively, when they act without engagement or commitment.”

This inner place Scharmer speaks of is more than intellect, ego, emotions, and will. In the inner work of leadership, it is a light behind the eyes, the energy that animates us, or, as Howard Thurman puts it, “the sound of the genuine in you.” Instead of true self or soul, you could say inner wisdom, essential self, or even trusting your gut. Poets, musicians, and mystics have given words to the essence of who we are—our human spirits—when we take off the trappings of our resumes. John O’Donohue calls it the dignity somewhere in us “that is more gracious than the smallness / that fuels us with fear and force.”  William Stafford appeals to “a voice, to something shadowy / a remote important region in all who talk.”

Although Parker Palmer often refers to his inner teacher, he often says that what you call this core of our humanity doesn’t matter, “but that we name it matters a great deal. It’s important to recognize it: If we don’t name it anything, we start to lose the being in human being. We start to treat each other like empty vessels or objects to be marketed. When we say ‘soul,’ or ‘identity and integrity,’ there is something to make a deep bow to. There is a word for it in every wisdom tradition.”

Beyond being the sum of your life experiences, the true self is a mystery that simply is. How do you get to that underlying mystery of knowing people deep down? Intimacy is not necessarily the goal of every relationship in community, especially in the workplace. But respecting that each person has an essential core self, an undeniable dignity and humanity—now that is worthwhile.

But seldom, if ever, do we ask the “who” question. Who is the self that engages in leadership? How does this self impact the practice of leadership, for good and for bad? How is the self continually honored and renewed as we lead?

—Parker J. Palmer

About Shelly L. Francis

Shelly L. Francis has been the marketing and communications director at the Center for Courage & Renewal since mid-2012. Before coming to the Center, Shelly directed trade marketing and publicity for multi-media publisher Sounds True, Inc. Her career has spanned international program management, web design, corporate communications, trade journals, and software manuals.

The common thread throughout her career has been bringing to light best-kept secrets — technology, services, resources, ideas — while bringing people together to facilitate collective impact and good work. Her latest book The Courage Way: Leading and Living with Integrity identifies key ingredients needed to cultivate courage in personal and professional aspects of life.

 

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Who Is Running The Farm?

Storytelling is an art and has been the engine behind knowledge being passed down for thousands of years. Stories exist to entertain, educate, impress, and engage. A gratifying story is a great joke, but not everyone can tell a funny joke or graciously bring a story alive so that we find meaning or grasp new lessons. If you love an engaging story, then pick up a copy of Farmer Able by Art Barter.  This book will engulf you and take you on a journey to discover the heart of servant leadership and show why the world is not all about you.

Farmer Able is an entertaining and humorous story that takes place on Farmer Able’s farm. It’s a fun book to real with a series of short chapters each with its lesson.

The pigs are running the farm. So begins the story of Farmer Able. Everyone on his farm -- people and animals alike -- are downright downtrodden by him. He's overbearing and compulsively obsessed with profits and productivity. He's a typical top-down, power-based manager, forever tallying production numbers in his well-worn ledgers. But the more he pushes the hoofs and horns and humans, the more they dig in their heels. That is until one day when he hears a mysterious wind that whispers: "It's not all about me." Can he turn things around and begin attending to the needs of those on his farm, thus improving their attitudes and productivity?

The following is an excerpt from chapter 6 of Farmer Able.

Foreman Ryder

Farmer Able’s troubles didn’t end with all things fuzzy, furry and feathered. No, the chorus of complaint rose up from humans as well.

There was Foreman Ryder, who Farmer Able had brought in a while back to manage his affairs. The word “manage” was something Farmer Able liked to hear. It had a certain ring to it that gave this little country operation an air of importance. He could tell his fellow farmers who hung out at the grain elevator that he had “Ryder handling things.” And this little fact, seeded into his conversations, placed him apart. At least that was the intent.

Foreman Ryder came with a resume forged in the school of hard knocks. He had worked his way up from a field hand. To hear him tell it, he’d spent many a year under the hot sun, in the sweltering haymow, in the freezing winters, in the cold spring planting and frigid fall harvesting. Ryder always thought of things in terms of hot or cold. And the more he told his stories about the arduous labors of his youth, the hotter or colder every rendition became.

Yes, he had pounded out a living busting dirt, and because of all his years paying his dues, he felt it was his right to bust heads. The way he saw things, he had earned this privilege, and he made a point of making sure everyone under his charge knew it. Including the animals.

He slapped the cows to get them to hurry into the milk barn and whapped them to hurry out. With the horses, if they didn’t behave, he’d get out the twitch. This draconian device had a small loop of rope secured to the end of a sawed-off shovel handle. He would twist it tightly around a horse’s upper lip to get him “to behave.” And the poor chickens . . . well, he could just pick them up and toss them where he wanted them to go. Yes sir, Foreman Ryder had not been spared from a hardscrabble life, and neither man nor beast should be spared either.

Farmer Able was largely oblivious to this ill-tempered woe. He welcomed Ryder’s “git-er-done” attitude—at least at first. But as anyone knows, hiring power inevitably creates a power struggle. Though Foreman Ryder knew the hierarchy of things, in the grimier recesses of his mind, he certainly didn’t embrace it. A man who feels a need to lord over another inevitably smarts under the one who is over him.

*****

Art Barter believes “everyone can be great, because everyone can serve.” To teach about the power of servant leadership, Art started in his own backyard by rebuilding the culture of the manufacturing company he bought, Datron World Communications. Art took Datron’s traditional power-led model and turned it upside down and the result was the small international radio manufacturer grew from a $10 million company to a $200 million company in six years. Fueled by his passion for servant leadership, Art created the Servant Leadership Institute (SLI).

To learn more about Art and his new Servant Leadership Journal, as well as his book on servant leadership, Farmer Able: A Fable About Servant Leadership Transforming Organizations And People From The Inside Out, endorsed by Franklin Covey, Ken Blanchard Companies, and John Maxwell Co., visit www.artbarterspeaks.com.