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Servant Leadership (Part 3) – Who’s on Top?


Leadership must be based on goodwill. Goodwill does not mean posturing and, least of all, pandering to the mob. It means obvious and wholehearted commitment to helping followers. We are tired of leaders we fear, tired of leaders we love, and of tired of leaders who let us take liberties with them. What we need for leaders are men of the heart who are so helpful that they, in effect, do away with the need of their jobs. But leaders like that are never out of a job, never out of followers. Strange as it sounds, great leaders gain authority by giving it away. ~Admiral James B. Stockdale

The typical organizational chart takes the shape of a pyramid with the Leader on top, followed by sub leaders, on and on to the bottom layer, the largest layer, the worker bee layer. This representation of the organization results in  the mindset that those at the top of the pyramid are the most important. And those at the bottom….well….we all know what flows down hill. I ask, who is really the most important people in the organization? I say, it’s the people who create / deliver the product or service to the customer. An employee cannot be entirely focused on the customer in a top down structure. Don’t believe it? When your boss asks for something, do you drop other, more pressing tasks to complete the boss’ assignment?

A customer does not care how important the man at the top is if the product he receives is substandard. If everyone is looking up the pyramid and trying to please their bosses, who is focusing on serving the customer, without whom, there would be no organization to manage.

The mindset of the Servant Leader is one that understands the importance of the people that face the customer, that make the product the customer purchases. The mindset of the Servant Leader is to turn the pyramid upside down such that the people at the top of the pyramid are the worker bees for they are the ones that truly add value to an organization.

The Servant Leader has the responsibility to remove any impediments the people doing the work have that inhibits their ability to serve the customer. The Servant Leader is there to ensure the workers are trained and empowered and energized to optimally meet customer needs. The Servant Leader must create an infrastructure that unleashes that talents of the workers. From the perspective of the Servant Leader, the workers are his customers and he should do everything he can to serve their needs so they are free to give the end customer outstanding products and outstanding service, to produce Outstanding Customer Value.

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