How Will Your People Vote?

At this point in what is shaping up as the wildest presidential election in many decades (and possibly one of the wildest in our country’s history), it’s easy to get a little discouraged with the democratic process. Sometimes it may even be tempting to agree with Winston Churchill’s remark that, “The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.” On the other hand, Churchill also said, “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”

In any case, what it comes down to for me is that the process of voting is a powerful way not only to reach important decisions, but it’s also a great learning tool for those in a leadership position. Self- awareness is critical to growing and developing as a leader. With that in mind, I have a question for you: if you asked the people in your organization to vote on whether or not you’re a successful leader, what would they say? And what might you learn from what they say?

Now, to make such an exercise useful, I think you’d want to make the question more specific.  As I’ve made clear in other postings, I believe strongly that servant-leadership is a better way to lead. I believe that because of the considerable body of research that shows that organizations that apply the principles of servant-leadership consistently outperform their competition across a whole array of key metrics.  In Seven Pillars of Servant Leadership, for example, the authors show that while the eleven public companies cited in Jim Collin’s Good to Great achieved a 17.5% total return on investment over a 10 year period, eleven similar size, publicly held, servant led companies actually returned 24.5% over the same ten years.

Command and Control                          Servant-Leadership

. Position authority                                          . Moral authority

. Might makes right                                         . Puts others first

. Survival of the fittest                                    . Puts the organization first

. My way is better                                            . Empowers others

. People are tools                                             . Welcomes feedback

. The end can justify the means                   . Builds consensus

.  Who screwed up?                                        . Seeks solutions not blame

Most companies, however, are not servant led. Most companies, and most organizations within companies, still adhere to the traditional command and control model. How does servant-leadership differ from command and control? This simple chart can help answer that question.

So the high level question you might want to pose to the people in your organization is: As a leader, where do I fall on a continuum between “pure” command and control and “pure” servant leadership?

What if you asked your people to “vote” on your leadership effectiveness by completing the following exercise, answering seven simple questions that together can help place you on that leadership continuum? The results  might be very interesting, don’t you think?

Please answer the following questions by using the seven-point scale.

1.      [Your Name]  often asks for feedback on his/her leadership style, he/she often asks how he/she could better support the people in the organization, and he/she really uses the information?

Command & Control                                                                                   Servant Leadership
1________2__________3_____________4_________5__________6___________7

2. [Your Name] often takes the mission statement off the wall, talks about it at staff meetings, and    discusses what that means for everyone on the team, especially when we face a difficult decision.

Command & Control                                                                                   Servant Leadership
1________2__________3_____________4_________5__________6___________7

3.  [Your Name] does not do most of the talking during staff meetings and makes it a point to draw people out to participate, asking for their opinions so as to reach solutions together whenever possible.

Command & Control                                                                                   Servant Leadership
1________2__________3_____________4_________5__________6___________7

4. [Your Name] seems to consider his/her role as a leader to be a privilege, one that the  people in the organization give him/her every day.

Command & Control                                                                                   Servant Leadership
1________2__________3_____________4_________5__________6___________7

5. When mistakes are made, [Your Name] treats them as learning opportunities for the team  and himself/herself instead of looking for someone to blame.

Command & Control                                                                                   Servant Leadership
1________2__________3_____________4_________5__________6___________7

6.  [Your Name] puts people in positions to succeed by giving them roles which play to their strengths.

Command & Control                                                                                   Servant Leadership
1________2__________3_____________4_________5__________6___________7

7. [Your Name] often allows other members of the team to get recognition which he/she could have received,  because it would’ve been the best thing for their development at that time.

Total Score_____   Average Score_______

Command & Control  1………………2……………3………………4……………..5…………..6…………..7 Servant Leadership

Once you’ve collected the survey, and done it yourself, you could ask yourself questions like these:

How does my rating of myself (my overall/average score) compare to the rating the people in my organization gave me?

On which specific questions was the difference the greatest between the way I rated myself and the way the others on my team rated me? What does this suggest in terms of what I do every day as a leader?

What specific actions could I take to move myself along the continuum toward servant leadership?

Give it a try. I think you’ll find the results, and the ideas they generate, very thought provoking. And as always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

My Best,

Joe

 

 

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