Servant Leadership in Action
by Ken Blanchard & Renee Broadwell
I have been debating for some time about adding this book to my monthly book spotlight because I was once told it was too close to religion or can be perceived as being religious, however, for me it was more symbolic than it actually being a book about conversion. This book was one of the first books I read in my journey to leadership growth, and it turned out to be a gem, at least for me. The first thing that I enjoyed was the ease of reading due to its format. The book is a series of stories and personal experiences from professionals in different industries and levels. This made the book sort of like reading a podcast series or a television show with episodes as chapters, which made it easy to read. You are able to read two or three chapters, put the book down for a couple of weeks (or even months lol) and continue reading afterwards without having to recap what you read in the beginning.
The authors, Ken Blanchard & Renee Broadwell, do a great job at allowing the small stories of more than 44 professional to continue the overarching main theme, which is being a servant leader. I know, I know you have heard of servant leadership and in more recent times it seems like it’s the new buzz word leaders are using to attract and retain their staff. But servant leadership takes time, dedication, and true commitment for it to be successful. One of the main things I learned from reading this leadership book is that auto reflection is necessary for you to achieve any growth and particularly grow as a good leader if that is your goal. Servant leadership is more than just being nice and having empathy.
Servant leadership is about serving your team by allowing them to see you as someone that is in your role to serve and support the team. Now, this doesn’t mean you are going to allow everyone to do whatever they please, whenever they want, but it does mean that you will allow others to have ownership of what they are responsible for and allow them to have empowerment to make decision. Servant leadership is about allowing yourself the opportunity of not always having to be the smartest person in the room and understanding that your idea (as the top leader) might not always be the best idea for the growth or success of that business. It’s understanding that your staff is truly a team of experts in their perspective areas that you have put in place to service the needs of the organization. This book talks about trust and provides examples of how you as a leader can take actions that will demonstrate and solidify that trust with you and your people. It also talks about sacrifice and how sometimes you will need to take action on things that make you uncomfortable for the better of the business and the perseverance of that servant leadership environment. You might need to be vulnerable at times but above all you need to be true and honest for that servant leadership environment to persist and be true.
I have known many places that deem themselves servant leader organizations, however they are afraid to let their staff members take the lead. They want to delegate project but control all the tasks. They are afraid of failure without visualizing the opportunity for success. It is not easy becoming an organization that leads with servant leadership, it has to be something you truly believe in and it must always start from the top member of the team (or owner). They must truly believe in its concept, strive daily to grow into the concept, expect that all leaders of the team follow the same mantra and drive all staff members to trust that it is true. This book opened the door for me to understand that there is more to leadership than just having the title and being a nice boss, it takes work and growth to become the servant leader everyone speaks about. Happy reading!