Tag Archives: servant leadership

Coming for the August 3 First Friday Book Synopsis – Platform, & Goldratt’s The Goal

Here are two important business success issues:

#1 — how do I successfully get people to listen to my message?
#2 — how do I find, and get rid of, whatever is slowing us down in our company?

Solve these 2 issues, and your path to business success becomes a little clearer.

At the August 3 First Friday Book Synopsis, Karl Krayer will present his synopsis of the book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World  by Michael Hyatt.  (Thomas Nelson.  2012)This book is designed to help you develop specific steps to clarify your message, refine your message, and get your message heard.

I am going to present the business classic The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement by Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox.  (North River Pr. — 3rd Revised edition:  July 2004).  We normally only present “new” books at the First Friday Book Synopsis, but we have occasionally presented books that fit in the category of “business book classics.”  A few years ago, I presented my synopsis of Servant Leadership by Robert Greenleaf.  Greenleaf coined the phrase “servant leadership,” a concept that has stood the test of time.   I believe his work should be discovered and rediscovered by every generation of business leadership.

The Goal is apparently that kind of book.

I was prompted to make this selection by an article in Slate.com by Seth Stevenson.  His article started with this:

When I began to gather information for this Slate series on operations management, I asked a few business-school professors to recommend books I might read on the topic. I expected I’d be pointed toward textbooks and manuals—perhaps written by the professors themselves, or by celebrity CEOs. Instead, I was urged to read a novel by a dead Israeli physicist.

And I blogged about the book in this post:  The Fat Kid Is The Bottleneck!” – (Eli Goldratt’s The Goal, And A Thought About Expertise).

This will be a valuable session as you try to find out just what it is that is slowing you down now, and then how to develop the kind of powers of observation to always be on the lookout for what will slow you down once this current “bottleneck” is unclogged.

If you are in the DFW area, please join us for the August 3 First Friday Book Synopsis.  (You will be able to register soon from our home page).  Great networking; a terrific, full-service omelet bar/full buffet breakfast; and good challenging content.  It is a great way to spend an early Friday morning. (By the way, we have presented two books a month, every month, since April, 1998 — over 14 years!).

Come join us.

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Do You Have a Job, or a Career, or a Calling?

A while back, I spoke for the wonderful folks at The Dallas Foundation.  Here is their tag line:
Here for Good.
It is a great tag line.  And the phrase, “Here for Good,” should become some kind of mantra for many more companies and organizations.

I thought about this, again, as I pondered the current state of affairs.  This blog post is a reflection about two or three different aspects of the modern business environment.

#1 – there are a lot of “bottom 10%ers” (the Jack Welch term), or “deadwood” employees (this is a term I heard from a very sharp and insightful man just this week), and they drag entire departments and organizations down.  Maybe because the average “10%er” is just showing up at his/her job.  Work is “just a job” to such a person.

#2 – There seem to be a fair number of companies/organizations (maybe some entire industries) which have slipped a little, or a lot, in the ethics department.  These companies seem to have little concern about treating people in an ethical manner.  And we find example after example in multiple industries, like NFL Football (bounties on players), to Wall Street firms (one firm:  some customers are viewed as and defined as, and treated like, “muppets”), and education (teachers and administrators cheating on standardized tests).

It certainly seems like an era of ethical deficiencies.

Why?  A comprehensive look at the why (the whys) is much beyond the scope of this brief article.  But I think this question might help us think a little about this:

Do you have a job, a career, or a calling?

If you have a job, your vision for work is pretty narrow.  Yes, there are plenty of people with a job who are hard-working, good, upright and honest people.  But if all you have is a “job,” you care little about the success of the organization (beyond the ability to “keep your job”).  You show up to get your pay check, and that may be about all that matters.

If you have a career, then you view your current job as a piece of the bigger puzzle of building a successful career.  The subtle danger here is that you are concerned about you – your own success, not the success of others, even the success of your customers, or the others in your organization.

Yes, I know that one way to aim for success for yourself is to aim for the success of others.  But to aim for the success of others in order to be successful yourself, well…that is a little on the self-centered side.  You know, a little bit of the whole “greed is good” idea.

I think that if you are focused on yourself, building your career, then you might just be open to cutting a few ethical corners to get there.

But if you have a calling, then you view your work as “for the other.”  You view work as a means to do what you were born to do, which is to live a life that is helpful and useful to others.  A calling is not something you “do,” or “build” or “endure.”  It is who you are, not what you do.

Maybe we need to find a way to lift our vision of work, past that of “just a job,” or “building a career,” to “fulfilling a calling.”  This might help us lift ethical standards just a little higher.

Many organizations seem to value “servant leadership.”  So, what is servant leadership?  From Robert Greenleaf, who coined the term:

The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.

View your work as that of fulfilling a calling; try to work for a servant leader, who is a servant first…  As you “rise up the ladder,” you will become a servant leader yourself.  You will serve others first, and always.  Then you will be here, and at work, for good.

Coming for the August First Friday Book Synopsis – the new Wellbeing, and a business book classic, Mastering the Rockefeller Habits

We had a wonderful gathering of book lovers and serious learners at the First Friday Book Synopsis this morning – a surprisingly good attendance for a 2nd Friday of July morning.

Next month, Karl Krayer will present a synopsis of the new, important book,  Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements by Tom Rath, Ph.D. and James K. Harter (Gallup Press, 2010).  (You can read Bob Morris’ review of this book on our blog book here).

I will present a synopsis of the business book classic, Mastering the Rockefeller Habits: What You Must Do to Increase the Value of Your Growing Firm, by Verne Harnish (Select Books, 2002).  This is a rare choice for us, to present a book that has been around a while.  We have only done this a couple of times.  The first business book classic we presented was Servant Leadership by Robert Greenleaf.  There are a few books that stand the test of time so well – books that either came out before we began the First Friday Book Synopsis in April 1998, or, a book we just happened to miss.  Such selections are ones that we feel that we need to include for the value they bring.  So, for August, I will present this immensely practical book by Verne Harnish.  (You can read Bob Morris’ review of this book on our blog here).

Mark your calendars now, and plan to join us on the first Friday of August, August 6.

There Is A Shortage Of Servant Leaders – This Is A Shortage To Worry About

I was revisiting Servant Leadership by Robert Greenleaf this week.  It is a true classic.  The phrase “Servant Leadership” was coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in The Servant as Leader, an essay that he first published in 1970.  The book develops his thoughts more fully, and provides the true and sure foundation from which all succeeding writings on “servant leadership” flow.

Here are some thoughts, with quotes from the book

He wrote the definitive line about servant leadership:
The servant leader is servant first. “It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first.”  The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types.

And then he established the agenda for a servant leader’s life and career:
The best test is: do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?


And then he reminded us of the scope of the servant leader’s influence:
And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society; will they benefit, or, at least, not be further deprived?

And he understood that leadership is leadership of real, “flawed” people:
Acceptance of the person requires a tolerance of imperfection. Anybody could lead perfect people — if there were any. It is part of the enigma of human nature that the “typical” person – immature, stumbling, inept, lazy – is capable of great dedication and heroism if wisely led.

As I revisited this classic work, it dawned on me that we have a genuine shortage of servant leaders at this moment.  And with a shortage of such leaders, there is a pretty good chance that this shortage will be perpetuated.  Not good!

Robert Greenleaf

This is what I think.  We all have a tendency to become like the people we follow. Oh for more true servant leaders to follow….


Here is the definition page of “Servant Leadership” from the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership web site.

The Three Tasks of a Leader

There are a few themes that pop up time and time again on this blog, because these themes pop up time and time again in the business books and articles we read.  You might call these the “big business issues.”  And I am beginning to think that the mother of all themes/all business issues is leadership.  People need to be led.  Leadership is what points to the future, and helps people get there.

I think there are three great leadership tasks.  Yes, these flow from all that I have read, including the most recent read, Fierce Leadership by Susan Scott.  And these three flow from the three great problems, even failures, of leaders.  Let’s describe these this way:

#1  We have too many uncaring leaders. (leaders who may care for the bottom line, but not for their people).

#2  We have too many unlearning leaders (leaders who do not keep learning)

#3  We have too many paralyzed leaders (leaders who are afraid to take risks, leaders who fail to see the changes needed).

So – if these are the problems, what are the three great tasks of leaders?

Task #1  Leaders are called to develop a good heart.

Susan Scott writes about smart+heart, and I would say as I read her book and thought about this that heart trumps smartSmart enough with a developed heart is much, much better that really smart and no heart.

A good heart describes a leader who cares about his/her people.  And these people include all people in the leader’s circle: family members, friends, colleagues, employees, and customers.  In other words, heart is not reserved for a narrow few, but for the many.  You either care about people or you don’t.

And a good leader finds ways to deepen the heart, to learn to care more deeply, and more consistently.

Robert Greenleaf coined the phrase “servant leader,” and he stated simply that the leader is servant first.  “Servant first” is all about caring for people.

Task #2  Leaders are called to nurture a keen and active, well-fed mind.

A leader needs to know what to think about, what to focus on, in terms of business innovation and business execution.   A leader simply needs to keep learning.

Here is one simple test:  does a leader keep reading?  If a leader is not intentionally exposing herself/himself to the new and best thought available, then that leader is depriving the people of a great gift, even a great need.  A leader has to keep learning.  If you are a leader, your people need you to keep learning.

Task #3  Leaders have to be willing to decide.

Decide what?  Everything.

With really good input from all of the people, with really good insight about the marketplace, the times, the trends, and always caring about the people — but ultimately, the leader has to make the decision.  And not deciding is a terrible decision to make.

These are the three:  develop a good heart; keep learning; make good decisions.

What would you add to the list of tasks for genuine and effective leadership?