Skip to main content

Servant Leadership Model

Do a Google search on "servant leadership" and you will get plenty of hits (2.5 million for me just then). So if you don't know what it is cruise on over to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Servant_leadership and check out the 21st century "Cliff's Notes" on the topic.

Disclaimer: as this blog is a from of note keeping for me - an extension of my cognitive model of the universe of knowledge - this article and the series of article may be in great flux until complete (or good enough to quit editing).
Greenleaf's enlightenment of Servant Leadership stems from his reading of  Hermann Hesse's short novel, Journey to the East. "Hesse's story is an account of a mythical journey by a group of people on a spiritual quest where the recognition of the true leader of the group takes place as a result of his acts of service and self-sacrifice for the benefit of the whole group. As Spears tells it, upon reading this story, it seemed suddenly clear to Greenleaf that a 'great leader is first experienced as a servant to others, and this simple fact is central to his or her greatness ... true leadership emerges from those whose primary motivation is a deep desire to help others' " (3).

I find it troubling that in Hesse's story the servant leader, Leo, abandons the group and it disbands, failing in it's quest to find the ultimate truth.  Our hero of the story later searches and finds Leo, and it turns out that Leo is the leader of the "League" which sat about to test the group's faith with the journey.  So is this parable to be emulated, do we wish our servant leader's to test and abandon us when we fail?

I do however like the concept of a leader as servant to the followship and the purpose.  I think we should make our diagrams and models reflect this by placing the leaders at the bottom of the diagrams (org charts) with their actions and behaviors supporting the team (followship) within the context of their shared purpose.

This orientation was done on some of the first Org Charts by the Erie railroad.

Here we see one of the first organizational charts.  Notice the CEO and Board of Directors is at the bottom of the page.  Why did later organization invert this orientation?  Well, in the English speaking/reading world we read right to left and top to bottom.  Where is the executive summary on a report?  Is it where summations are typically found - at the bottom of a body?  No.  The executive summary is at the top of the body.  Presumable because we wish to reduce the work load on the executive that doesn't have enough energy to read the complete report and can just intuitively understand the reports purpose from a summary.  Well my guess is the CEO doesn't like having to read about all these other people to find their name on the org chart - solution?  Invert the chart.  Problem - now the body of the org is seen to be in service to the leader.

Show me a leader that creates an org chart, and I can quickly see if the leader is a servant leader. While Greenleaf's Best Test is difficult - mine is simple.
"The best test, and difficult to administer, 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, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?“
Lao Tzu says of the leader, "A leader is best when people barely know that he exists, not so good when people obey and acclaim him, worst when they despise him. Fail to honor people, they fail to honor you": But of a good leader, who talks little, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will all say, "We did this ourselves." (4: Spears, p. 242)

Have you been looking for how to turn the platitude of "Servant Leader" into action?  My recommendation is to buy Management 3.0 Workout book.

#Workout is built on a foundation of actionable advice

Management 3.0 

What is the definition of leadership?
Can anyone be a leader? Can anyone manage a team? We believe management is not only the manager’s responsibility. It’s everyone’s job! Leadership pursues the goal of growing and transforming organizations that are great places to work for, where people are engaged, the work is improved and clients are simply delighted.

You might want to start your change toward servant leadership by changing yourself.  A thought leader in this area is Christopher Avery.  Try his workshops or read his book, The Responsibility Process - Unlocking your natural ability to live and lead with power.

See Also:

A Review of Leadership ModelsWhat is Servant Leadership - at Greenleaf's Org - he who coins the term, defines the term.
Journey to the East - Wikipedia - Greenleaf's inspiration for the concept


References:

1) Leadership Theory and Practice - 6th Ed. by Peter Northouse.
2) Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness - 25th Ann. Ed. by Robert Greenleaf
3) The Myth of Servant-Leadership: A Feminist Perspective by Deborah Eicher-Catt
4) Reflections of Leadership. by Larry Spears(1995).
Post a Comment

Most Popular on Agile Complexification Inverter

David's notes on "Drive"

- "The Surprising Truth about what Motivates Us" by Dan Pink.

Amazon book order
What I notice first and really like is the subtle implication in the shadow of the "i" in Drive is a person taking one step in a running motion.  This brings to mind the old saying - "there is no I in TEAM".  There is however a ME in TEAM, and there is an I in DRIVE.  And when one talks about motivating a team or an individual - it all starts with - what's in it for me.

Introduction

Pink starts with an early experiment with monkeys on problem solving.  Seems the monkeys were much better problem solver's than the scientist thought they should be.  This 1949 experiment is explained as the early understanding of motivation.  At the time there were two main drivers of motivation:  biological & external influences.  Harry F. Harlow defines the third drive in a novel theory:  "The performance of the task provided intrinsic reward" (p 3).  This is Dan Pink's M…

Exercise:: Definition of Ready & Done

Assuming you are on a Scrum/Agile software development team, then one of the first 'working agreements' you have created with your team is a 'Definition of Done' - right?



Oh - you don't have a definition of what aspects a user story that is done will exhibit. Well then, you need to create a list of attributes of a done story. One way to do this would be to Google 'definition of done' ... here let me do that for you: http://tinyurl.com/3br9o6n. Then you could just use someone else's definition - there DONE!

But that would be cheating -- right? It is not the artifact - the list of done criteria, that is important for your team - it is the act of doing it for themselves, it is that shared understanding of having a debate over some of the gray areas that create a true working agreement. If some of the team believes that a story being done means that there can be no bugs found in the code - but some believe that there can be some minor issues - well, …

Elements of an Effective Scrum Task Board

What are the individual elements that make a Scrum task board effective for the team and the leadership of the team?  There are a few basic elements that are quite obvious when you have seen a few good Scrum boards... but there are some other elements that appear to elude even the most servant of leaders of Scrum teams.









In general I'm referring to a physical Scrum board.  Although software applications will replicated may of the elements of a good Scrum board there will be affordances that are not easily replicated.  And software applications offer features not easily implemented in the physical domain also.





Scrum Info Radiator Checklist (PDF) Basic Elements
Board Framework - columns and rows laid out in bold colors (blue tape works well)
Attributes:  space for the total number of stickies that will need to belong in each cell of the matrix;  lines that are not easy eroded, but are also easy to replace;  see Orientation.

Columns (or Rows) - labeled
    Stories
    To Do
    Work In P…

What belongs on the Task Board?

I wonder about these questions a lot - what types of task belong on the task board?  Does every task have to belong to a Story?  Are some tasks just too small?  Are some tasks too obvious?  Obviously some task are too larger, but when should it be decomposed?  How will we know a task is too large?

I answer these questions with a question.  What about a task board motivates us to get work done?  The answer is: T.A.S.K.S. to DONE!



Inherent in the acronym TASKS is the point of all tasks, to get to done.  That is the measure of if the task is the right size.  Does it motivate us to get the work done?  (see notes on Dan Pink's book: Drive - The surprising Truth about what motivates us) If we are forgetting to do some class of task then putting it on the board will help us remember.  If we think some small task is being done by someone else, then putting it on the board will validate that someone else is actually doing it.  If a task is obvious, then putting it on the board will take vi…

Team Performance Model - by Drexler and Sibbet

Many of you have all heard of the Tuckman model of team dynamics (Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing).  It was created in 1966 and has become the most popular model for describing team behavior.  Is it time to level up in your mental model of team dynamics?  Are you ready for a richer more functional model?



Introducing the Team Performance Model by Drexler and Sibbet



Orientation - Why am I here?
"Orientation is about understanding the purpose of a team and assessing what it will mean to be a member.  you need to understand the reason the team exist, what will be expected of you and how you will benefit from membership.  In a new team, these are individual concerns, because the group is only potentially a team.  that is why these concerns are illustrated as occurring in your imagination at an intuitive level.  As a team leader it is important to provide time and space for people to answer these internal questions themselves."

Keys to when Orientation challenges are resolve…