Recent Client work with culture change, service/quality improvement, safety, and leadership development has led to discussions of values, intentions, and drivers of behavior change. Do you see people as “human assets” to be “motivated” toward your goals? Do you strive for a win/win alignment of helping people get what they want from work while the organization gets what it wants from people? Do you serve and support or direct and control? Do you start your day asking how you can make the world better or how you can move closer to your goals?

Servant Leadership - Jim Clemmer, The Practical LeaderRobert Greenleaf, coined the term “Servant Leadership” in the 1960s when he retired from management development at AT&T and formed the Centre for Applied Ethics. Here’s part of his definition:

 “The servant-leader is servant first…  It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions… The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.

In his article, “Are You a Level-Six Leader?“Harvard Business School visiting professor Mitch Maidique writes:

“The central, most telling question to ask a leader is, whom do you serve? Some leaders will tell you, using a popular descriptor, that they aspire to be ‘servant leaders.’ The question still remains, however, a servant to whom: to yourself, to your group, or to society (to cite three of several options)?”

Mitch builds a six-level “typology of leadership” that he calls a Purpose-Driven Model of Leadership:

  1. Sociopath
  2. Opportunist
  3.  Chameleon
  4. Achiever
  5. Builder
  6. Transcendent

Of course, no one is just one of or two types. We’re a complex blend of many overlapping and interconnected types. As we grow, develop, and personal or organizational circumstances change so will the primary drivers of our leadership approaches.

A big problem we constantly see are organizations trying to install leadership and culture development programs that don’t align with the underlying beliefs deeply embedded in the typology of its key leaders.

For whose convenience are your systems and processes designed? Is your mission statement deeply lived or just filler on your web site? Do your team or organizational values have a high “snicker-factor?” Whom do you serve? What about your team? Your organization?

Further Reading: