Friday, August 2, 2019

Lean Quote: Give One’s Self to Others

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.


"The most satisfying thing in life is to have been able to give a large part of one's self to others." — Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Lean organizations need leaders who know how to serve their people. A servant leader -- one who wants to serve first and lead second -- strives to create a work environment in which people can truly express these deepest of inner drives. Servant leadership entails a deep belief that people are the greatest asset any organization has, and to nurture their individual growth becomes the basis for all organizational development. That growth goes far beyond the limited dimension of financial benefit -- it dives into our core motivations as people.

Servant leadership is a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world. The key differences between servant leaders and more autocratic styles can be summarized as follows:

Motives. A servant leader uses their power to develop followers and growing the company through the development of the full potential of the workforce, rather than using their power to control and exploit employees.

Preferences. Servant leaders prefer inspirational and transformational power, because they seek to influence and transform followers, rather than using positional, political and coercive powers to control subordinates.

Outcome. If we define power as the ability to influence followers, then servant leadership is more effective, because “the arm of control is short, while the reach of influence has no limits”.

Orientation. Servant leaders are sensitive to individual and situational needs, because they exist to serve others; therefore, they are relation-oriented and situational, rather than being only concerned about their own authority and power.

Skill level. Servant leadership requires a higher level of leadership ability and skills, because it takes more interpersonal skills and positive inner qualities to inspire and influence workers.  On the other hand, authoritarian leaders only need obedience and coercive power to enforce compliance and conformity from their subordinates.

Attitude to vulnerability. Servant leaders are willing to risk making themselves vulnerable by trusting and empowering others, rather than being afraid of vulnerability.

Attitude to humility. Servant leaders view themselves as servants and stewards, and voluntarily humble themselves in order to serve others, rather than blaming others for failure and claiming credit for success.


A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid,” servant leadership is different. The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first, and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.

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