To Lead You Must Serve

Walt Grassl

By developing and rewarding the practice of servant leadership, an organization goes a long way toward creating a positive, productive work environment that inspires teams. Here are seven principles servant leaders follow, from "selling, not telling" to valuing diverse opinions and thinking long term.

Paul was 24 years old. He was shy and the youngest member of his workgroup. During lunch with his coworkers, the conversation turned to the recent promotion of his current supervisor, Charles. They speculated about who would replace him. There was a major concern that a coworker, Terry, was lobbying hard for the position. Terry got along with no one. He was hoping to get the job “So people will do what I want them to do.”

While the group was lamenting about that possibility, Paul asked why no one there was vying for the position. One by one, they all had their reasons why they didn’t want it. Paul shook his head and said, “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.”

Two weeks later, much to his surprise, Paul was called into Charles’ office and offered the job. He was shocked. While most of the group was under 30, one member was in his mid-40s. Paul thought, “I can’t tell my dad what to do.”

After sleeping on the offer overnight, Paul accepted, on the condition they train him to be a leader. …

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