Implementing Servant Leadership review Part 1

This isn't going to be your typical book review, first because it may happen in a couple of posts and second because I want to share with you the messages I have gotten from this book.  Again these are about my personal journeys and this is way for me to share with whomever wants to read it but also away for me to look back and reflect on what I have learned.

Implementing Servant Leadership stories from the field is by Don. M. Frick and is a compilation book about how a variety of companies implement servant leadership as their leadership model.  He uses examples from hospitals, to large construction companies, to neighbourhood coffee shops and churches.   In each it started with one person speaking to a group of people wanting to make a change so that things would be better for the company, it wasn't the necessarily about the bottom line but when a company is floundering trying anything is better than not trying at all.  In every story the company that embraced servant leadership was struggling and they made the change because they wanted to do better for their employees. The increased bottom line was just an added bonus, at least that's how I interrupted their stories.

So let us begin with hospitals journey to Servant Leadership.  The hospital was struggling and they needed to make a change, so they began the Servant Leadership journey. They designed a program to put their employees through because they understood that EVERYONE can be a leader.  They learned and embraced the importance of allowing people to lead so they could tap into their untapped potential and do a better job even though they were given fewer resources.  It was also important to note that by taking on Servant Leadership the "better than" attitude needed to be dealt with.  And all employees were given the opportunity to go through their program.

I liked the lay out of their program, it must be the teacher in me, but what was very clear to me was that the program wasn't a "can" program, that I could send out a request for then just implement it at my organization.  It was a living breathing entity of the hospital culture, it worked for them because they developed it for them.  Some of the the ideas, the processes, would work but the how my organization were to approach this would have to have unique spin on it for us, otherwise it would just be another training tool that our staff slept thru not actively participating in.  I've seen it a time or two.

Kathleen Fasbender shared that "Processes are there to serve the people, while people serve the processes to enhance the whole"(6) which immediately made me think of circles.  My boss is always talking about closing the circles.  We have processes in place and they are set up to help our people but for some reason they aren't closed or coming full circle.  Which means when we look at certain problems that come up because our process hasn't been fully realized to serve the people, are people can't serve the process and we are left with questions.

For me personally developing a Leadership workshop for my organization using the teachings of Servant Leadership is the end goal, it's what I wan to see happen, of what I want to be a part.  I would love to be part of the group that implements the workshop that does yearly retreats for groups of employees so that all our employees can be Servant Leaders to help with improving the quality of life of the people in our care.

I guess first though I have to feel confident in my ability to be a servant leader of my own life, which is why I have started on this journey.

I'm also going to speak to the Cape Town Connection in this blog.  Cape Town is in South Africa, it is a very poor town, that has a history of violence.  It has divisions that are still evident between the Blacks, Coloured and Whites.  But even when there doesn't seem to be anything, Hope is there.  Just like in Pandora's box, Hope remains.  With Hope you see people who hope to make a difference and choose to do something about it. With Hope you see people who want to improve their situations and people who want to help them.  It truly is a great showing of the human spirit, and of all the good things that humans are capable of if they just choose to think outside themselves.

I found in this chapter the quotes from the people most helpful, there were many great quotes from Robert Greenleaf, Nelson Mandela, Albert Einstein and others.  Nelson Mandela was quoted as saying "it is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur.  You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership."(73) It's important that when a celebration is occurring that all my coworkers, employees individuals get to participate in our celebration, get to know that where we are would never have occurred if not for their involvement, my part is a small part to play.  But when things get rough, I need to go out front and help my staff see how we can solve the problem, if their is a problem it is for me as the leader, to solve and to help educate my employees how they can solve future occurrences of a similar nature.  It's about empowering people to use their potential to improve the whole. Robert K. Greenleaf is quoted to say "Community [is] the lost knowledge of these times.  If it ain't fun it won't get done" (83) which is very true.  When we work together to create a real community, we create a culture, but if we don't honour those in our communities, when we create classes of citizens in our community we lessen the community and it's no fun to be there.  Community is at the heart of culture, no culture exists where a community did not.  You can dream up your culture but without people to believe in it, without people to live it the culture will not survive.

I will go more into what else I found interesting in this book in my next blog.
Thanks for reading


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