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Friday, February 25, 2022

Lean Quote: The Servan-Leader is Servant First

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 servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first.  —  Robert Greenleaf

In a team led by a servant leader, the leader is one part of the team, and his role isn’t necessarily more important than the role of any other member. Being a servant leader means accepting responsibility for the team—its members, objectives, reputation, morale, and more. The servant leader recognizes that they are responsible to the team, not the other way around, and they act accordingly. Servant leaders lead teams that people want to join.

Servant leaders understand what success looks like, not just for the team as a whole but also for each member. A servant leader enables the success of those they leads, removing barriers and creating an environment for the team to succeed. To be a servant leader to a high-performing team, you’ll need to listen carefully, be attuned to the people around you, and empathically understand what they’re thinking. The servant leader knows their team’s capabilities and desires.

At the same time, servant leadership is more than just doing what the others want. Leaders need to lead—to set direction and lead team members in that direction. Sometimes they need to hold team members accountable, to make tough decisions that some won’t always like, and to encourage (push) people to excel. Sometimes, this is uncomfortable—for the leader and for team members. If leaders don’t do this, however, teams may become too “cozy”; they may lose their edge and start to fail their members.

Effective servant leaders care about others and about helping them succeed as individuals and as a group. Group members can see when a leader cares about their needs and is focused on their success. That service earns him the group’s respect. When a person has that respect, they have earned the title and role of leader.

In your lives today and in the future, you will have many opportunities to lead. If you accept the role of a servant leader, you’ll find that teams will seek you out to lead them, your advice and opinion will be sought, and your team members will also grow and succeed.

From a point/counterpoint perspective, servant leaders:

• Need to listen and know when the time for discussion is over.

• Achieve consensus, but know when to preserve things that are good without floundering in a constant storm of question and reinvention.

• Set/maintain standards and know when to reject what does not maintain those standards or the team vision.

• Serve their customers and know how to make a difference with the team.

Please think about how you can be a servant leader in your current role.

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1 comment:

  1. In your experience, have you noticed others are more willing to work harder and be accepting to change specifically related to lean six sigma and quality if the their superior has a more servant leadership style?