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A Conspiracy of Service

That quote jumped into my life today. For the past year I have been praying for a clear vision of what my consulting business should develop as its expertise.  People, productivity and profitability has led me into opportunities in team building and coaching. What approach should guide my work? Numerous books, webinars and audio CD’s left me somewhat confused. But then in listening to the audiobook, Radical by David Platt, I stumbled across an approach to leadership that resonated with me, Servant Leadership.

The more I thought about the concept, the more it combined all the teaching I had learned from all my mentors like John Maxwell, Stephen Covey, Dale Carnegie, Ken Blanchard, Dan Lumpkin, and most of all, Jesus Christ. I already KNOW that serving, not controlling, motivates people best. Motivated people are always more productive, and the bottom line always improves.  The ‘Aha’ moment crystallized for me. I knew what I wanted to grow better and better at providing to organizations and individuals. And it fit with my personal mission statement! Thank you Lord!!!

So I got on Google and sure enough not only did a book exist with the title, Servant Leadership by James Autry, but his work acknowledged the originator of the term, Robert Greenleaf. Published in 1977, Greenleaf’s book also entitled Servant Leadership, is credited with starting this alternative approach to MBO top down leadership theory.  Now for the universe conspiring.

My men’s prayer group, Outback, puts on two weekend retreats a year. Couples and parent/teens go for the weekend. The common response after the weekend revolves around how surprised the campers are to see all these CEO and business leaders parking cars, waiting tables, cleaning toilets, and truly serving the guests. In listening to this for the umpteenth time this morning, it hit me. What would happen if these business leaders took that same servant approach into their work every day? If the retreat goers were blown away, how about their employees?

I get to the office and tune into a webinar by another mentor of mine, Dan Pink, on human behavior. His first point was, “To grow power, you have to give it up.”   Servant Leadership again.  At the end of the webinar, Dan mentioned that all this goes back to the work in the 1970’s by Robert Greenleaf. I hear the universe humming, “Can’t you hear me knocking…” by the Stones.

So on my way to coach a supervisor, I called a great friend known his for business and community leadership. Ran the concept by him and he concurred that true leadership has to include servant leadership. He mentioned that the best consulting his companies ever received was from Louis Tice of the Pacific Institute in Seattle. His approach followed Greenleaf’s in that the his key to improving employee performance was to focus on helping the employee become the best “person” that employee could become. Louis passed in 2012 and the responses on his website suggested a life consistent with his message. Servant Leadership in spades.

So I am half way through Autry’s book, have Greenleaf’s on order and leave Sunday for a week-long retreat on developing my authentic leadership skills. Do I see a conspiracy unfolding?

Stay tuned.

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