Recently, I attended an interesting talk with Rusty Gordon, CEO of Knowlagent who spoke about servant leadership. It was entitled, “Leading From Behind!” and it was hosted by The Institute For Enterprise and Innovation.
Wikipedia states, That “servant leadership is an approach to leadership development, coined and defined by Robert Greenleaf and advanced by several authors as Stephen Covey, Peter Block, Peter Senge, Max De Pree, Margaret Wheatley and Ken Blanchard.
Servant leadership emphasizes the leader’s role as steward of the resources (human, financial and otherwise) provided by the organization. It encourages leaders to serve others while staying focused on achieving results in line with the organization’s values and integrity.”
Rusty Gordon, shares a convincing argument that current leadership models have failed and that leadership methods based on “I” do not work! He believes that the “You” style of leadership is the best and most successful for today’s companies. This style promotes the idea that, “You decide and I will help you! ” It communicates to employees that, ” I know and trust you.” A leader’s success is defined by other’s success. A President or CEO who believes in servant leadership says, ” My success is based on your success.” Simply, you can only be successful, if your clients and employees are successful!
To understand the philosophy of servant leadership, just think about the popular Home Depot commercial, “You can do it – we can help!”
That refreshing! It’s common sense! The business owner or leader serves as the role of coach and trainer. However, it also dictates extreme caution. One who advocates servant leadership must choose her employees and clients very carefully.
Would this leadership style work for you? You must ask yourself the following questions: Are these candidates a good fit for your company? Do they believe in the company’s vision, mission and principles? Would these new employees feel comfortable with your corporate culture? As for your clients, do these prospective clients truly fit with your company? How does this prospect compare to your target market or best clients? Do they see and understand the value your products or services? Would you enjoy working with these companies?
Servant leadership promotes the idea that you choose to work with employees and companies based on not who they are now, but who they could become in the future!
Rusty says that servant leaders are not found in the front, but behind. When you lead from behind, you do not block their vision! Powerful! Insightful. The Knowlagent CEO stated, “You are pushing your employees and clients to become the very best! “
Yes, it sounds terrific! But, does it really work? The success of Google and Microsoft is tied to the philosophy and practice of servant leadership. We have often heard the popular advice, “Surround yourself with good people” Mr. Gordon, remarked that Bill Gates, Co-Founder and Chairman of Microsoft, says, “It’s about surrounding yourself with intelligent people and getting out of the way!” Apparently, Google founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin have adopted this leadership strategy for their successful company. Google has launched many new products and services: Gmail, Google earth, AdWords, Google Desktop, Google Video, Google Tool Bar, Google Web Accelerator etc Recently, Google stock climbed to $500 per share! That is rather impressive, considering that the IPO price was about $85 in 2004! Microsoft is not doing so bad either. Perhaps, if servant leadership works for Google, Microsoft and CEO Knowlagent Rusty Gordon, it might work for you too!