Executive Excellence Article: Servant Leadership by Stephen Covey

April 11, 2010

“New wine, old bottles” that is a very interesting component that strikes me the most in this reading regarding servant leadership as it reminds me a lot the work teams and groups dynamics we discussed in chapter 8, especially the  comparison between the new team environment versus the old work environment, in which the former comparison exhibits a new and more effective leadership approach as it promotes an active participation at all multiple levels; instills an open culture to initiatives where people truly can bring into the organization fresh ideas with different insights to solve problems, and where true leaders serve as facilitators to provide to their teams not only the tools, but also the guidance and support to rock and work together for the shared organizational goal by helping each other out; whereas the latter comparison brings nothing but a more authoritarian management style where “I am the boss and you are the subordinate” kind of attitude that we see it in companies all the time, companies that seethe with “yes-man” people that do nothing but help grow admiration, recognition, influence, and the worse “diseases” of abuse of power on leaders and managers which make them feel good about every situation when they enjoy the ranks of their positions. This is not an effective way to improve the systems whatsoever; on the contrary challenging their ideas will benefit both the organization and the employees who appeal to it. 

Covey also touches upon the importance of engaging our employees in a two-side, reciprocally accountable, performance preview versus the old performance appraisals we discussed in Culbert’s article, Get rid of performance evaluations” Performance preview instead of performance review: this is great as you really need to provide transparent feedback to your subordinates on a daily basis in regards to the operation results, individual’s performance, projected plans, and so on and so forth to foment a teamwork spirit where everybody is on the same page and is held accountable for the job.

Thus, in Covey’s article we see that in order to implement a servant model of leadership managers and leaders have to consider three aspects to transformation:

  • Build relationships: two-way communication system: boss-subordinate; so we have authentic conversations for the betterment of the operation systems- that is how can we work together better as a team by airing out the issues, clear them up before they become hindrances, and the best to contribute to team development which leads to productivity, and productivity equals profit. Yet, to foster a healthy atmosphere of trust and respect between boss and subordinate, as it is amazing how far one can go with that!
  • Win-win performance agreements: to encourage a citizenship behavior in individuals in the team work, to create more loyal and committed employees toward the organizational goals which will eventually lead to productivity and profitability yet servant leaders need to provide to employees a preview of expectations which should include 5 areas:
    • Purpose
    • Guidelines
    • Resources
    • Accountability
    • Consequences
  • Being a source of help: better known as facilitators, as I mentioned earlier, true authentic leaders really need to facilitate the right tools and guidance to their employees so that they perform effectively and know what is expected from them, that way both bosses and subordinates will be held accountable to perform their work tasks according to the lineaments of job during which four questions need to be asked:
  • How is it going?
  • What are you learning from this situation?
  • What are your goals now?
  • How can I help you?

In summary, servant leadership is not soft or touchy-feely; it is much tougher style as it empowers the employees to realize their absolute potential yet servant leadership is a less problematic management style, a more effective system that future organizational leaders need to embrace to set companies up for long-term success.

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