It was 2006. My CFO just fired the 4th person he hired, within a year of hiring them. Now, his entire team had turned over 3 times in as many years.
Yet, the executive team felt he was getting positive results. In fact, on paper, he was.
The organization was stronger than ever, from a fiscal perspective. However, the reputation of the organization and the lives of many employees were damaged. So it was clear, the executives focused completely on their investors – even at the expense of employees.
I knew there was a better way.
I’d seen other leaders achieve better results, without leaving a wake of bodies. It was time to study leadership and understand what made some succeed without such collateral damage. And study it, I did.
I spent years researching all kinds of leadership “styles”. What was in vogue, what was not. What the latest book recommended by Harvard Business Review said and what popular leaders proclaimed. I read and read and read some more. Then, it happened. I discovered Servant Leadership.
Everything else faded away.
It became clear – servant leadership is authentic leadership. You only require the term “servant” because society is confused regarding what is authentic leadership. Leadership is service. It’s putting the needs of those you serve – all of them – before your own. (tweet this | share on LinkedIn)
Yet I rarely heard people speak of “servant leadership”. It seemed those who understood this concept were a small niche. How could that be?! It was so obvious!
I had to get the word out. I had to tell everyone. I had to scream it from the roof tops and blast it in the face of executives confusing leadership as an achievement to reach, rather than a commitment to serve. ModernServantLeader.com became that scream.
This site is the voice through which I advocate servant leadership awareness, adoption and action. Thank you for listening and thank you for helping spread the word.
Question: What is your passion and how do you advocate it?
Ben, I’m interested in knowing if servant leadership was a natural fit for your personality or if you had some changes to make.
First, sorry for the very long delay in response. Not sure how I missed your comment. Second, for me it was really both. Let me explain:
When I graduated college and through much of my early career, I was not at all interested in the principles of servant leadership. I was much more concerned with prestige, power, and personal wealth. However, as time passed, these interests faded. It really was the experience with the executive I mentioned here, that was my personal tipping point.
So it was a building up for me. Until I hit a tipping point at which I would say it became a natural fit. I’ve heard others (Max De Pree, Robert Greenleaf, Ken Blanchard…) described this sort of experience as the “change of heart” necessary for someone to shift into servant leadership.
All that said, to be clear, I do not consider myself a great servant leader. I do strive to be one – but I have a long ways to go myself. Anyone claiming to be a servant leader themselves may be challenged in the selflessness principle and humility attributes. It’s great to say you strive to be a servant leader but claiming to be one, completely, could be a red flag we still have some work to do!
Thanks for the question and again, sorry I did not respond much sooner.