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More than 6,300 people have registered for our Servant Leadership in Action Livecast coming up on February 28.

That’s a lot of people!

I think the event is popular because people recognize we are in desperate need of a new leadership model—one that recognizes that people lead best when they serve first.

(For more information about the Livecast, keep reading.)

We have all seen the negative impact of self-serving leader behaviors. So why does this type of leadership continue to be so prevalent in today’s organizations?

In my experience, self-focused leadership is always caused by an overactive ego—one that is driven by comparative feelings of being either more than or less than others. Once you fall into one of these traps, you spend your time trying to either prove how smart you are or win the favor and approval of others.

One of my favorite books on this topic is Egonomics by David Marcum and Steven Smith. They identify four warning signs of an overactive ego that could undermine an executive’s career.

Seeking acceptance: These leaders become overly concerned with what others think, which keeps them from being true to themselves. They tend to play it safe, swim with the current, and restate others’ ideas instead of coming up with their own.

Showcasing brilliance: These leaders go beyond sharing their thoughts—they want their intellect to be the center of attention. When showcasing is allowed or encouraged, the casualty is collective wisdom. Paradoxically, the more leaders show off their brilliance, the less likely people are to listen.

Being comparative: Instead of focusing on their own personal best, these leaders feel a need to compare themselves with others. Excessive comparison turns colleagues into competitors—and competitors are not effective collaborators. Comparing strengths to weaknesses leads to either excessive self-confidence or feelings of inadequacy.

Being defensive: Instead of defending an idea, these leaders behave as if they are defending themselves personally. They focus on proving their case and deflecting alternative points of view. These leaders resist feedback and brush off mistakes to the degree that conversations with them become superficial.

The goal is not to remove ego from the equation completely—it is to keep it in balance. Marcum and Smith recommend that leaders develop their humility, curiosity, and veracity. The objective is to achieve and maintain an intelligent self-respect and genuine confidence.

In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins identifies another way leaders can keep their ego in check: focus on something bigger than themselves. Collins suggests a special type of leader who builds enduring greatness through a combination of personal humility and professional will. He describes this type of leader as a Level 5. Of special note is the underlying principle Collins sets forward—leaders at all levels need to put organizational, department, and team goals ahead of their personal agenda.

Don’t let your ego get in the way of your good intentions. Practice humility and self-acceptance. When you are able to love and accept yourself with all of your imperfections, you can do the same for others. You’ll be surprised at how well people will respond when you get your ego out of the way. People already know you’re not perfect—it’s when you become vulnerable enough to admit it that the magic will happen in both your personal and professional relationships. As Colleen Barrett, former president of Southwest Airlines and servant leader extraordinaire, says, “People will admire your strengths, but they will respect your honesty regarding your vulnerability.”

PS: Interested in learning more about servant leadership? Join us for the Servant Leadership in Action Livecast on February 28. The event is free courtesy of Berrett-Koehler Publishers and The Ken Blanchard Companies. Twenty servant leadership experts—authors, CEOs, and thought leaders—will share how servant leadership concepts work in their organizations and how you can be a servant leader in your workplace. You can learn more here!

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Dear Madeleine,

I am a university student who moved to the U.S. from India about 7 years ago. I recently completed an internship for a 1500-person company in which the CEO wanted to have more diversity.

In retrospect, I can see the company offered me the internship in part to show that they were focused on being more diverse.

The problem is, from the beginning my boss didn’t seem interested in utilizing me at all, and I was given only a few tasks that I completed quickly.

When I asked for more work, my boss told me I was too pushy. Then, after letting me sit at my desk with nothing to do for a few days, she told me I didn’t have enough drive.

I thought about leaving, but I stuck it out because I wanted a recommendation. But at the end of the internship my boss told me she couldn’t write me a recommendation because I hadn’t actually done any real work.

I’m trying to figure out what happened and what I could have done differently, but I also feel that the cards were stacked against me from the start.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Rejected

Dear Rejected,

Well, that sounds horrible. I am so sorry this happened to you. It does sound a little like you were hired to be the diversity poster child and that possibly you were foisted on your boss.

As a boss myself, it is my experience that managing interns is time consuming and often unproductive. Managers who do well with interns have usually asked for one to complete specific projects and are natural teachers who have a desire to nurture and mentor. Being a great boss for interns requires the willingness to take the time and an unusual generosity of spirit.

It sounds as if the person who was your boss didn’t sign up for an intern in the first place and was not interested in teaching, mentoring, or showing generosity of any kind. This may be the root of the problem.

She may also have had an aversion to your differences. It is entirely possible that you have been the object of conscious or unconscious bias. When people are not like ourselves—people of different religions, socio-economic backgrounds, race, etc.—it is easy to view them negatively without even realizing it. This is often called in-group bias.

There are so many different kinds of unconscious biases. It is fascinating and we are all susceptible to some, if not all, of them. You can read more about it here. It might not even be this complicated—it’s possible that your boss just didn’t like you. It happens. Even so, she should have been enough of a grownup to be civil and professional.

I am surprised you didn’t have a contact in HR you could have talked to. Even a small company should have had someone for you to go to. You may feel it is too late now. But ultimately, there are a couple of big things to take away here:

  • You should not, and cannot, take any of what happened personally. It is always the leader’s job to adapt to the temperament of the employee and meet them where they are to help them succeed. Your boss wasted your time and left you feeling left out and confused. Her behavior was unconscionable and is absolutely on her.
  • You must learn from your experience. Next time make sure the person you are going to be working for truly wants an employee and has a hand in hiring you. Never take a job unless you have a job description with clear tasks and goals. Make sure there is agreement up front about what a good job looks like so that you can do a good job! This helps avoid being at the mercy of a boss who isn’t on your side. Do your homework about the company beforehand—especially their efforts at diversity—so you aren’t an unwitting pioneer trying to blaze a new trail.
  • Pay attention to your own biases. We all have them. The more you are aware of your own, the more effective you will be as you move forward in your career.

You are still a student, so you have time on your side. Best to chalk this up to experience, take what you can as learning, and move on. Most of us learn a lot about what not to do from terrible bosses, so there is value in that: you will never do to some poor kid what was done to you!

Love, Madeleine

About the author

Madeleine Homan Blanchard is a master certified coach, author, speaker, and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. Madeleine’s Advice for the Well Intentioned Manager is a regular Saturday feature for a very select group: well intentioned managers. Leadership is hard—and the more you care, the harder it gets. Join us here each week for insight, resources, and conversation.

Got a question for Madeleine?  and look for your response here next week!

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When an organization invests in coaching for their leaders, it is often because they want to move the leader from “almost ready” to “ready now” on promotion lists. In many of these situations, the coaches are asked to help the leaders improve and increase specific skills or develop and deploy underutilized strengths.

Basically, skill acquisition of the new and the better is expected by the sponsoring organization.

But what executive coaches have always known is what Ken Blanchard and Renee Broadwell zero in on in their new book, Servant Leadership in Action: leaders need support to look at what they need to eliminate from their behavior. This radical assessment is a critical first thing to address on the path to effective leadership.

In examining the impediments to true leadership, Blanchard states that the essential problem is the leader’s ego, and a preoccupation with how one is perceived. Specifically, he identifies the leadership-limiting implications for leaders as either over-promoting or over-protecting themselves.

Executive coaches resoundingly agree with you, Ken Blanchard!

Truly effective leaders are focused on the needs of those they are leading, which is what Ken calls servant leadership. Working with a coach can expand a leader’s focus from narrow and self-centered to include and, in fact, prioritize a focus on the needs of others. This requires a priority step in the coaching process of the leader’s honest assessment of the extent to which they are over-promoting or over-protecting themselves.

A great coach will “hold the mirror” for the leader, and ask them to honestly answer questions such as:

  • What have you learned about yourself recently that was surprising?
  • What other surprises could be waiting for you?
  • What do you do when you hear something new about yourself that you do not like?
  • What do you most fear people will discover about you?
  • What do you most want people to know about you?
  • What does it cost you when you behave in ways that you do not understand and cannot control?
  • What is the significance of a leader in the life of an employee?
  • If you were exactly the leader you wanted to be, what would be the difference between that image and who you are right now?

Coaching questions like this ask executives to consider the role of ego in their behaviors. With honest self-assessment, the leader can see where false pride or self-doubt have derailed their effectiveness.

With increased knowledge of self, the mirror can be replaced by a window and the gaze of the leader can confidently focus on the needs of others. Expanding skills and leveraging underused strengths is possible now, as the leader’s focus is off of their ego maintenance and on to meeting the needs of their followers and the organization.

Editor’s Note: Would you like to learn more about implementing a servant leadership mindset and skill set in your organization? Join Ken Blanchard for a free online Servant Leadership in Action Livecast on February 28!

Blanchard will host 20 authors, CEOs, and thought leaders from all walks of life as they discuss strategies and offer encouragement for leadership, learning, and talent development professionals interested in discovering more about servant leadership concepts.

The event is free, courtesy of Berrett-Koehler Publishers and The Ken Blanchard Companies. Learn more here! 

About the Author

Mary Ellen Sailer, Ed.D., is a Coaching Solutions Partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Coaching Services team. Since 2000, Blanchard’s 120 coaches have worked with over 15,000 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services. And check out Coaching Tuesday every week at Blanchard LeaderChat for ideas, research, and inspirations from the world of executive coaching.

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Dear Madeleine,

Can you clear something up for me? I have been told by a former coach and others that I need to be more “authentic.” But I have also just received feedback in a performance review that I am too brusque, condescending, and cold. And if one more person tells me they are intimidated by me, I am going to scream.

True, I’m not warm and fuzzy—I never have been and never will be. I am extremely analytical and I do tend to cut to the chase whenever possible. I get an amazing amount of work done, I always hit my goals, and people come to me for answers. And yet, it appears that my direct reports and some peers want me to be nicer.

So which is it? Should I just go ahead and be authentic? Or should I try harder to be nice?

Confused and Fed Up

Dear Confused and Fed Up,

Oh, how I loathe the exhortation to be authentic. There are simply too many individual interpretations of what that word actually means.

All kinds of agendas are behind the call for authenticity, but the only one I agree with is that we all need to avoid trying to be something we’re not at the risk of being seen as fake or insincere.

I completely understand your confusion, so let’s clear this up: You should be as much yourself as possible—but the best possible version of it—and never totally yourself. And in your case, smile a lot more than is natural.

The key is to observe yourself. Reflect on what your true self really is and what behaviors are most natural to you. Then pay attention to what others are most comfortable with and regulate your natural behavior to the extent possible to increase their comfort level. This is called Emotional Intelligence—and the more you practice, the better you will get at it.

For a little more depth, I recommend a deep dive into understanding personality types so that you can figure out how you are different from other people, why it matters, and what to do about it. Here are a few resources:

David Keirsey on personality types

Linda Berens’ work on Temperament Theory

Jim Harden and Brad Dude’s What Makes You Tick

For example, I suspect you will find you have a dominant temperament that Keirsey calls Rational. It is driven by core psychological needs to achieve mastery, self-control, knowledge, and competence.

Your gifts of being an excellent systems thinker, a natural problem solver, and someone generally unaffected by regular conventions have a shadow side. People who are not like you (approximately 93 percent of the world) may perceive you as cold, unemotional, and condescending.

It would indeed be very inauthentic for you to try to be warm and fuzzy, but there is an argument to be made for being polite, which is simply a discipline, and kind, which may be more of a stretch and will require fairly intense self-regulation.

To avoid being fake, use your analytical skills to investigate each of your colleagues and pinpoint something to admire and thus a reason to respect them. Find something to care about for each person you work with by using your considerable intellect to put yourself in their shoes. And remember, it takes all kinds.

Do tell the truth as you see it—just not the way you are hearing it in your head. You will have to translate your thoughts; e.g.: “Good grief, that is the stupidest idea I have ever heard,” to something like “another idea might be to…”.

The good news is that you can leverage your drive for mastery and competence to become easier to get along with, without having to fundamentally change who you are—which is good, because that isn’t possible. The bad news is that it will require some effort on your part. And the other bad news is that we are all going to have to hear more about authenticity in the future.

Love, Madeleine

About the author

Madeleine Homan Blanchard is a master certified coach, author, speaker, and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. Madeleine’s Advice for the Well Intentioned Manager is a regular Saturday feature for a very select group: well intentioned managers. Leadership is hard—and the more you care, the harder it gets. Join us here each week for insight, resources, and conversation.

Got a question for Madeleine?  and look for your response here next week!

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In this episode of the Blanchard LeaderChat podcast we speak with David Novak, co-founder and former CEO of Yum! Brands and author of O Great One!: A Little Story About the Awesome Power of Recognition.

For Novak, a large part of the success he had with improving performance at KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell during his tenure as CEO of parent company Yum! Brands was creating a culture of recognition.

“Recognition is a big driver of success. You have to show people you care about them,” says Novak.  “Leaders need to be heart-wired—they need to have a big heart.”

Novak shares that the higher up you go in the organization, the more you have to support other people’s ideas.

“If there is no involvement, there is no commitment.  You have to use your listening skills.  It tells people that what they do really matters.”

Novak also dispels the myth that recognition won’t play out in other cultures.

“Recognition is universal.  A lot of people were doubters, but once they saw the power of it they said ‘I’m going to try it myself.’ And then they developed their own personal recognition awards.”

Recognition reinforced behaviors that drove the business says Novak and he encourages others to give it a try in their organizations.

“It’s not that hard to say ‘Thank you.’ The more you give, the more you receive.”

Be sure to listen to the very end of the interview to hear Ken Blanchard’s thoughts and takeaways from the ideas David Novak shares.

https://leaderchat.files.wordpress.com/2018/02/blc-david-novak-episode.mp3
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“A servant leadership mindset is all about focusing on others rather than yourself,” says bestselling business author Ken Blanchard. As part of research for a new book, Servant Leadership in Action, Blanchard had an opportunity to explore both the mindset and the skill set needed for leaders interested in adopting an others-focused approach to leadership.

“The mindset is to recognize that there are two parts of servant leadership, says Blanchard. “There is the vision, direction, and goals—that’s the leadership part. Everybody needs to know where you’re going and what you’re trying to accomplish.

“The servant leadership skill set is turning that vision into action. Now you are looking at the day-today management behaviors people need from their leader to succeed.”

Blanchard shares some examples:

Developing Others: “Servant leaders are always preparing people to be their own boss by helping them own their job and be in charge. This means identifying a direct report’s development level and providing the direction and support they need to grow and develop.”

Delegating: “Servant leaders first make sure that people know what the goals are. Then they turn the organizational pyramid and the reporting relationships upside down. They ask questions like How can I help? and What can I do to make a difference to help you accomplish your goals?

Directing Others: “It’s not really about directing them,” says Blanchard. “It’s about helping them. Sometimes when people are new they need clear direction—it is a temporary leadership behavior to help someone take ownership of their job and get to where they want to go.”

Servant leadership is a journey, says Blanchard. It’s both a mindset and a skill set. Once you get it right on the inside you can begin to develop the skills related to goal setting and performance management. Blanchard points to two of his company’s flagship programs as examples of how servant leadership principles can be taught as a part of a larger leadership development curriculum.

“In many ways, servant leadership is the overarching theme that covers the concepts of two of our most popular programs: Situational Leadership® II and First-time Manager.

“For example, Situational Leadership® II has three skills that generate both great relationships and results: goal setting, diagnosis, and matching. Notice that the first skill is goal setting. All good performance starts with clear goals—which, for a manager, are clearly part of the leadership aspect of servant leadership.

“Once clear goals are set, an effective situational leader works with their direct report to diagnose the direct report’s development level—competence and commitment—on each specific goal. Then together they determine the appropriate leadership style—the amount of directive and supportive behavior—that will match the person’s development level on each goal. That way the manager can help them accomplish their goals—the servant aspect of servant leadership. The key here is for managers to remember they must use different strokes for different folks but also different strokes for the same folks, depending on the goal and the person’s development level.

“In our First-time Manager program we teach the concepts of One Minute Management. The First Secret of The One Minute Manager is setting One Minute Goals—which for a manager is part of the leadership aspect of servant leadership. Once employees are clear on goals, an effective One Minute Manager tries to catch people doing something right so that they can deliver a One Minute Praising—the Second Secret. If the person is doing something wrong or not performing as well as agreed upon, a One Minute Re-Direct is appropriate—the Third Secret. When effective One Minute Managers are praising or redirecting their employees, they are engaging in the servant aspect of servant leadership—working for their employees to help them win.

“Why are the concepts of Situational Leadership® II and The One Minute Manager so widely used around the world? I think it’s because they are clear examples of servant leadership in action. Both concepts recognize that vision and direction—the leadership aspect of servant leadership—are the responsibility of the traditional hierarchy. People need to be clear on their goals. Implementation—the servant aspect of servant leadership—is all about turning the hierarchy upside down and helping employees accomplish their agreed-upon goals.”

Mindset and Skill Set

“Saying you’re a servant leader is a good start, but it is your behavior that makes it real for people,” says Blanchard. “Servant leadership is a combination of mindset and skill set that focuses on serving others first so that organizations develop great relationships, achieve great results, and delight their customers.”

Would you like to learn more about implementing a servant leadership mindset and skill set in your organization? Join Ken Blanchard for a free online Servant Leadership in Action Livecast on February 28!

Blanchard will host 20 authors, CEOs, and thought leaders from all walks of life as they discuss strategies and offer encouragement for leadership, learning, and talent development professionals interested in discovering more about servant leadership concepts.

The event is free, courtesy of Berrett-Koehler Publishers and The Ken Blanchard Companies. Learn more here!

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A servant leader is someone who recognizes that people lead best when they serve first.  It is a concept that is innovative but also well-traveled.  It has always existed as an alternative leadership path for managers who recognize that they don’t have to choose between people and results—they can focus on both.

David Marshall at Berrett-Koehler Publishers recently posted a Reading List for Servant Leaders. It’s a great mix of titles beginning with Robert Greenleaf’s The Servant as Leader (the book that started the modern servant leadership movement) and then continues with books by authors, CEOs, and thought leaders from all walks of life explaining how to use servant leadership concepts in today’s work environment.

Here’s the complete list:

  1. The Servant as Leader by Robert K. Greenleaf
  2. Servant Leadership by Robert K. Greenleaf
  3. The Journey to the East by Hermann Hesse
  4. The Secret by Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller
  5. Dare to Serve by Cheryl Bachelder
  6. The Leadership Challenge by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner
  7. The Serving Leader by Kenneth R. Jennings and John Stahl-Wert
  8. Multipliers by Liz Wiseman
  9. The Servant Leader by James A. Autry
  10. Give and Take by Adam Grant

I’d like to add two more books to this list that I’ve found to be helpful.  Number 11 will help aspiring leaders get it right on the inside by examining beliefs and behaviors that might be getting in their way.  Number 12 will help people get it right on the outside by sharing practical strategies leaders can use in their day-to-day management practices.

  1. Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts–Becoming the Person You Want to Be by Marshall Goldsmith

Marshall Goldsmith is the #1 executive coach in the world and his client list reads like a Who’s Who of the Fortune 500.  In this book, Goldsmith shares six engaging questions he uses with his clients. The questions provide a daily touchpoint to keep leaders on track with their intentions.

  1. Helping People Win at Work: A Business Philosophy Called “Don’t Mark My Paper, Help Me Get an A” by Ken Blanchard and Garry Ridge

Ken Blanchard is the best-selling business author of 21 million books and Garry Ridge is the CEO of WD-40 Company.  In this book, Blanchard and Ridge teach leaders how to focus less on performance review (akin to grading people’s papers) and spend more time on providing the direction and support they need to succeed (helping people get an “A”.)

Those are my suggestions. How about yours?  What books would you add to a recommended reading list for aspiring servant leaders?  Use the comments section to add your recommendations.

PS: Interested in learning more about servant leadership and how an others-focused approach could work in your organization?  Join Ken Blanchard and 20 other authors, CEOs, and thought leaders for a complimentary online conference February 28. The Servant Leadership in Action Livecast is free and open to leadership, learning, and talent development professionals wanting to explore servant leadership and how it is used in today’s organizations. The event is free courtesy of Berrett-Koehler Publishers and The Ken Blanchard Companies.  Learn more here!

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Dear Madeleine,

Can you clear something up for me? I have been told by a former coach and others that I need to be more “authentic.” But I have also just received feedback in a performance review that I am too brusque, condescending, and cold. And if one more person tells me they are intimidated by me, I am going to scream.

True, I’m not warm and fuzzy—I never have been and never will be. I am extremely analytical and I do tend to cut to the chase whenever possible. I get an amazing amount of work done, I always hit my goals, and people come to me for answers. And yet, it appears that my direct reports and some peers want me to be nicer.

So which is it? Should I just go ahead and be authentic? Or should I try harder to be nice?

Confused and Fed Up

Dear Confused and Fed Up,

Oh, how I loathe the exhortation to be authentic. There are simply too many individual interpretations of what that word actually means.

All kinds of agendas are behind the call for authenticity, but the only one I agree with is that we all need to avoid trying to be something we’re not at the risk of being seen as fake or insincere.

I completely understand your confusion, so let’s clear this up: You should be as much yourself as possible—but the best possible version of it—and never totally yourself. And in your case, smile a lot more than is natural.

The key is to observe yourself. Reflect on what your true self really is and what behaviors are most natural to you. Then pay attention to what others are most comfortable with and regulate your natural behavior to the extent possible to increase their comfort level. This is called Emotional Intelligence—and the more you practice, the better you will get at it.

For a little more depth, I recommend a deep dive into understanding personality types so that you can figure out how you are different from other people, why it matters, and what to do about it. Here are a few resources:

David Keirsey on personality types

Linda Berens’ work on Temperament Theory

Jim Harden and Brad Dude’s What Makes You Tick

For example, I suspect you will find you have a dominant temperament that Keirsey calls Rational. It is driven by core psychological needs to achieve mastery, self-control, knowledge, and competence.

Your gifts of being an excellent systems thinker, a natural problem solver, and someone generally unaffected by regular conventions have a shadow side. People who are not like you (approximately 93 percent of the world) may perceive you as cold, unemotional, and condescending.

It would indeed be very inauthentic for you to try to be warm and fuzzy, but there is an argument to be made for being polite, which is simply a discipline, and kind, which may be more of a stretch and will require fairly intense self-regulation.

To avoid being fake, use your analytical skills to investigate each of your colleagues and pinpoint something to admire and thus a reason to respect them. Find something to care about for each person you work with by using your considerable intellect to put yourself in their shoes. And remember, it takes all kinds.

Do tell the truth as you see it—just not the way you are hearing it in your head. You will have to translate your thoughts; e.g.: “Good grief, that is the stupidest idea I have ever heard,” to something like “another idea might be to…”.

The good news is that you can leverage your drive for mastery and competence to become easier to get along with, without having to fundamentally change who you are—which is good, because that isn’t possible. The bad news is that it will require some effort on your part. And the other bad news is that we are all going to have to hear more about authenticity in the future.

Love, Madeleine

About the author

Madeleine Homan Blanchard is a master certified coach, author, speaker, and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. Madeleine’s Advice for the Well Intentioned Manager is a regular Saturday feature for a very select group: well intentioned managers. Leadership is hard—and the more you care, the harder it gets. Join us here each week for insight, resources, and conversation.

Got a question for Madeleine?  and look for your response here next week!

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In this episode of the Blanchard LeaderChat podcast we speak with David Novak, co-founder and former CEO of Yum! Brands and author of O Great One!: A Little Story About the Awesome Power of Recognition.

For Novak, a large part of the success he had with improving performance at KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell during his tenure as CEO of parent company Yum! Brands was creating a culture of recognition.

“Recognition is a big driver of success. You have to show people you care about them,” says Novak.  “Leaders need to be heart-wired—they need to have a big heart.”

Novak shares that the higher up you go in the organization, the more you have to support other people’s ideas.

“If there is no involvement, there is no commitment.  You have to use your listening skills.  It tells people that what they do really matters.”

Novak also dispels the myth that recognition won’t play out in other cultures.

“Recognition is universal.  A lot of people were doubters, but once they saw the power of it they said ‘I’m going to try it myself.’ And then they developed their own personal recognition awards.”

Recognition reinforced behaviors that drove the business says Novak and he encourages others to give it a try in their organizations.

“It’s not that hard to say ‘Thank you.’ The more you give, the more you receive.”

Be sure to listen to the very end of the interview to hear Ken Blanchard’s thoughts and takeaways from the ideas David Novak shares.

https://leaderchat.files.wordpress.com/2018/02/blc-david-novak-episode.mp3
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“A servant leadership mindset is all about focusing on others rather than yourself,” says bestselling business author Ken Blanchard. As part of research for a new book, Servant Leadership in Action, Blanchard had an opportunity to explore both the mindset and the skill set needed for leaders interested in adopting an others-focused approach to leadership.

“The mindset is to recognize that there are two parts of servant leadership, says Blanchard. “There is the vision, direction, and goals—that’s the leadership part. Everybody needs to know where you’re going and what you’re trying to accomplish.

“The servant leadership skill set is turning that vision into action. Now you are looking at the day-today management behaviors people need from their leader to succeed.”

Blanchard shares some examples:

Developing Others: “Servant leaders are always preparing people to be their own boss by helping them own their job and be in charge. This means identifying a direct report’s development level and providing the direction and support they need to grow and develop.”

Delegating: “Servant leaders first make sure that people know what the goals are. Then they turn the organizational pyramid and the reporting relationships upside down. They ask questions like How can I help? and What can I do to make a difference to help you accomplish your goals?

Directing Others: “It’s not really about directing them,” says Blanchard. “It’s about helping them. Sometimes when people are new they need clear direction—it is a temporary leadership behavior to help someone take ownership of their job and get to where they want to go.”

Servant leadership is a journey, says Blanchard. It’s both a mindset and a skill set. Once you get it right on the inside you can begin to develop the skills related to goal setting and performance management. Blanchard points to two of his company’s flagship programs as examples of how servant leadership principles can be taught as a part of a larger leadership development curriculum.

“In many ways, servant leadership is the overarching theme that covers the concepts of two of our most popular programs: Situational Leadership® II and First-time Manager.

“For example, Situational Leadership® II has three skills that generate both great relationships and results: goal setting, diagnosis, and matching. Notice that the first skill is goal setting. All good performance starts with clear goals—which, for a manager, are clearly part of the leadership aspect of servant leadership.

“Once clear goals are set, an effective situational leader works with their direct report to diagnose the direct report’s development level—competence and commitment—on each specific goal. Then together they determine the appropriate leadership style—the amount of directive and supportive behavior—that will match the person’s development level on each goal. That way the manager can help them accomplish their goals—the servant aspect of servant leadership. The key here is for managers to remember they must use different strokes for different folks but also different strokes for the same folks, depending on the goal and the person’s development level.

“In our First-time Manager program we teach the concepts of One Minute Management. The First Secret of The One Minute Manager is setting One Minute Goals—which for a manager is part of the leadership aspect of servant leadership. Once employees are clear on goals, an effective One Minute Manager tries to catch people doing something right so that they can deliver a One Minute Praising—the Second Secret. If the person is doing something wrong or not performing as well as agreed upon, a One Minute Re-Direct is appropriate—the Third Secret. When effective One Minute Managers are praising or redirecting their employees, they are engaging in the servant aspect of servant leadership—working for their employees to help them win.

“Why are the concepts of Situational Leadership® II and The One Minute Manager so widely used around the world? I think it’s because they are clear examples of servant leadership in action. Both concepts recognize that vision and direction—the leadership aspect of servant leadership—are the responsibility of the traditional hierarchy. People need to be clear on their goals. Implementation—the servant aspect of servant leadership—is all about turning the hierarchy upside down and helping employees accomplish their agreed-upon goals.”

Mindset and Skill Set

“Saying you’re a servant leader is a good start, but it is your behavior that makes it real for people,” says Blanchard. “Servant leadership is a combination of mindset and skill set that focuses on serving others first so that organizations develop great relationships, achieve great results, and delight their customers.”

Would you like to learn more about implementing a servant leadership mindset and skill set in your organization? Join Ken Blanchard for a free online Servant Leadership in Action Livecast on February 28!

Blanchard will host 20 authors, CEOs, and thought leaders from all walks of life as they discuss strategies and offer encouragement for leadership, learning, and talent development professionals interested in discovering more about servant leadership concepts.

The event is free, courtesy of Berrett-Koehler Publishers and The Ken Blanchard Companies. Learn more here!

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