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I Believe In Servant Leadership And No One Will Change My Mind

I have managed many people over the years in various capacities. I never had any formal education about management or leadership. I am not a fancy business school graduate or someone familiar with all the silly management and leadership lingo.

I had been managing people and teams successfully for many years with my own style. A style that works for me. 

I had never heard the term “Servant Leadership” until I was watching a really terrible reality TV show called Undercover Billionaire (please don’t judge me, it was just after my accident and I couldn’t move off the sofa).

The subject of the show “Glenn Stearns” said he falls under “Servant Leadership” and it struck a chord with me. That’s exactly what I do. It’s what I’ve always done. It’s what I believe in. I didn’t know it was a formal “management style”.

My LEADERSHIP style on UNDERCOVER BILLIONAIRE!

This is the secret to my success as a CEO. Listen up! 👂

Posted by Glenn Stearns on Friday, February 18, 2022

What does Servant Leadership mean to me?

Like I said, I have never been taught this. I don’t know anything about what they teach in business schools, but this is what has worked for me. It’s very simple. I’ll list it out below then talk about each point.

  1. Hire employees that absolutely do NOT need to be managed 
  2. Share the wins with them
  3. Create extremely clear processes (SOPs) for them to do their job
  4. Create extremely clear KPIs for them to meet
  5. Empower them 100% with decision making and resources to meet their goals
  6. Act as the teacher, mentor, cheerleader, assistant, servant willing to do whatever necessary to help them meet their goals
  7. Accept all blame, give all the credit
  8. You need to care. 

Hire employees that absolutely do NOT need to be managed

“The moment you feel the need to tightly manage someone, you’ve made a hiring mistake.”

― James C. Collins

I look for resourcefulness.

I look for those that won’t take no for an answer. 

I look for those who find a way.

I look for those who can take a punch, and still find a way to win the fight.

Can you do your job well enough that I don’t have to use my time “managing” you, but I can use my time “supporting” you? There’s a big difference. That’s what I look for.

I’ll discuss more in a post about hiring.

Share the wins with them

What does this look like exactly? It could look like a lot of different things.

It could look like profit sharing. 

It could look like bonuses. 

It could look like a raise.

But it doesn’t have to be monetary,

It could look like some small gifts.

It could look like an appreciation call.

It could look like public praise.

It could look like some small benefit.

It could be as simple as a “good job”.

If I am winning, I want them to be winning. It’s as simple as that. Frame that any way you want, but the principle is important. 

Create extremely clear SOPs

If you want to serve them with minimal intervention, they need to have clear directions. 

The more questions your employees have on how to do something, where to put something, how you want something, the less productive they will be, and the harder it will be for you to serve them efficiently. 

I’ll post another day about the importance of good SOPs. 

Create extremely clear KPIs

What’s the goal here? It’s the same point as I made with the SOPs. If your employees don’t know what the goal is, they’ll have a hard time reaching it.

When someone says “KPI”, you immediately think of hard statistics. That’s often the case because they are objective and measurable and many businesses survive or die by numbers. So KPIs are important, but all of the goals can’t be KPIs. 

I believe in establishing very clear goals, some are KPIs, and some could be of other natures. 

Sample goals could be things like:

  • Sell [XX] number of [WHATEVERYOUSELL] this quarter
  • Write code for a new stored procedure
  • Stop being late to meetings
  • Get certified in Google Ads
  • Cross train in another area

This obviously has to be evaluated on a case by case basis, but the main takeaway here is that it’s clear and achievable. 

Goals should live in the growth zone. 

This is really ugly infographic, but it demonstrates the point. 

Goals that are too easy don’t propel the ship forward.

Goals that are too hard cause undo stress and anxiety on your employees.

The goal is to hit that perfect zone that forces them to work harder, smarter, better, to grow personally, to be resourceful, and to fight.

Empower them 100% with decision making and resources to meet their goals

If you expect them to meet their goals, you must also give them the power and tools to reach those goals.

Resources

What if they can’t meet their goals because the subscription to the software they use every day has expired?

What if their goals are to have high performing ad campaigns, but you removed the ad budget?

What if they need specialist training and you are not willing to pay for the right courses to send them to?

How can you expect them to meet their goals without giving them the resources they need to do it? 

Power

Power is an interesting thing here. If you give someone a responsibility, you MUST give them the accompanying authority.

This quote says it all.

I once worked at a gym. It was my responsibility to “get more customers”. 

Everyone complained about the price. I said “Can I adjust the price?”. I was told “no”.

Everyone complained about the class format. I said “Can I adjust the format?” I was told “no”.

No one knew about the gym. I said “Can I run ad campaigns?” I was told “no”.

There was no website. I said “Can we pay for a website to be created?” I was told “no”.

After 3 months, I was asked “Why don’t we have more customers?” I didn’t have an answer. 

I didn’t have the authority to make decisions. I didn’t have the resources necessary to reach my goals. Lesson learned Jason. Lesson learned.

You must be comfortable letting them make decisions. Tough decisions. They will make mistakes. They’ll sometimes do things differently than you would. But trust them. Empower them. 

They’ll feel in charge of their own jobs. They can put their own spin on it. They can fully own it, own the accomplishments, and have no excuses when there’s failures.

But you won’t let them fail. You will be there to catch them before they fall.

Act as the teacher, mentor, cheerleader, assistant, servant willing to do whatever necessary to help them meet their goals

This is the most important part of this piece. It’s very simple. They have the directions, they have the goals, they have the authority and resources, what more do they need?

They need your support. If you fully embrace this style of leadership you will be their biggest fan.

You can guide them. You can teach them. When they make a decision, you support them publicly, but privately you teach them, foster them, guide them.

I have helped my employees with personal problems. Scheduled daily meetings to help them strategize on how to meet their goals. Spent time teaching them new skills. Spent countless hours fixing their mistakes with them and teaching them the right way.

When things go awry with a customer, I jump in and save them. I never fry them. I take full responsibility to the customer as if it’s my fault as if my employee did nothing wrong. 

If you do this right, your purpose is to be nothing more than a servant to their success.

Accept all blame, give all the credit

There’s a book called ‘Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t’ by Jim Collins. I quoted him above. It’s a great read for managers, entrepreneurs, and leaders.

This is not an affiliate link, but it’s available on Amazon here.

He’s talking about leaders that took good companies and made them great companies. He’s finding trends in the CEOs and what they did that was successful. 

One of my favorite quotes:

“…leaders look out the window to attribute success to factors other than themselves. When things go poorly, however, they look in the mirror and blame themselves, taking full responsibility” ― James C. Collins

I think everyone should study this quote. It’s relevant in a lot of areas in life. It’s relevant in partnerships, relationships, working group dynamics, group projects, etc. 

When shit goes wrong, are you looking out the window to place blame on someone else, or in the mirror to figure out how you can take responsibility?

You want your staff to work hard? You want them to support your mission? You want them to excel, to be great? Find a way to do this with authenticity.

While doing some research for this piece, I ran across this: https://medium.com/thrive-global/recipe-successful-leadership-take-blame-give-credit-7d29153676b9

I have no affiliation with the author. But to take a couple of excerpts together, it states my point very clearly.

“The Recipe for Successful Leadership: Take all the Blame and Give the Credit to Others.” 

“Empower those you lead to succeed. Help them succeed and publicly give them credit. Take blame for their faults and privately train and teach them afterward.”

I couldn’t agree more. Once again, to quote the great Mandalorian… This is the way

You need to care

I won’t make a big point here. I shouldn’t have to say this. But you need to care. You need to care about your employees. 

You need to care with sincerity.

You need to care if they have personal issues. You need to care if they are feeling stress or anxiety. You need to care if they are doing good work. 


You need to care about them. You need to care about their lives. You need to care for them in a capacity that far exceeds your business.

Thanks for reading,

Jason

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