In the first part of our three-part series, we looked at my takeaways from the book Lead Like Jesus: Lessons from the Greatest Leadership Role Model of All Time by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges. In part two, we looked at my takeaways from a few other books on servant leadership that I would commend to you, and in this third part, I’ll look at my takeaways from a few more books.
Dare to Serve: How to Drive Superior Results by Serving Others by Cheryl Bachelder
Cheryl Bachelder is the former CEO of Popeye’s. Her book about servant leadership is what she refers to as Dare-to-Serve leadership. She tells us that if you move yourself out of the spotlight and dare to serve others, you will deliver superior performance results. She describes the “Dare to Serve Leader” as one who possesses a rare combination of traits, courageous enough to take people to a daring destination, yet humble enough to selflessly serve others on the journey. She tells us that the dynamic tension between daring and serving creates the conditions for superior performance.
In the first half of the book she tells the story of the turnaround of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Inc., a publicly traded global restaurant chain she led. The second half of the book is about how you can become a Dare-to-Serve leader. It offers thoughts and reflections to guide you in becoming the most effective leader you can be. Throughout the book she includes Dare-to-Serve Reflections to help you think about the leadership role you are in today and the best way to influence and steward the people entrusted to your care.
A few of the takeaways I had from this book were:
- Here’s a tough question. Do you love the people you’ve decided to serve? It helps.
- If you choose to be a Dare-to-Serve leader, you’ll have one very big obstacle to overcome. Yourself. It is easy to say that you want to serve others well, but it is much harder to do so in daily life.
- What can a leader do to drive engagement? Help people find purpose and meaning at work. Inspire them to contribute their very best work. Care about them, so that they want to care about the enterprise.
- Servant leadership simply means service above self.
- Superior results are the measure of how well we serve. Serving and performing go hand in hand.
- Dare-to-Serve leaders help their followers discover their personal purpose. This builds intentionality and engagement and leads to positive outcomes, including superior results.
- Humble leaders inspire, but self-centered leaders squash the spirit of the people.
- Dare-to-Serve leaders see each individual as a unique and valuable human being, worthy of dignity. And they treat them accordingly.
- To serve others at work, we need to put more thought into the values that govern our day.
- Your leadership actions will change lives for the better, leave them unchanged, or, regrettably, leave them worse off.
The Serving Leader: Five Powerful Actions to Transform Your Team, Business, and Community by Ken Jennings and John Stahl-Wert
This best-selling leadership classic, which no less of a leadership expert as Ken Blanchard has called “the most practical guide available to implementing servant leadership in your life and work” has been revised and updated with a helpful new chapter in a 10th Anniversary Edition. The authors use a compelling and at times quite touching fictional story based on real characters to outline the basics of what they call “Serving Leadership”.
Here are a few takeaways I had from this book:
- When a leader keeps personal ego in check – and builds the confidence and self-esteem of others – it is then possible for the team to work together.
- Serving Leadership requires a deep humility and a willingness to pour yourself into the good of others.
- Making a difference for others is the point of our lives. It is the great purpose that gives us everything we need to run the best race we can.
- Great leaders take active steps to really learn who their direct reports are, who they are as people. They ask them about their lives, their aspirations, their strengths and needs – and then they make sure to really listen!
The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do by Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller
The book is written as a fictional story, like Patrick Lencioni’s leadership fables, and follows Debbie Brewster, a leader who has been struggling. As a result, she applies for a new mentoring program at her organization. She is selected to participate, and the mentor she is assigned to is Jeff Brown, the president of the company.
In their first meeting Debbie asks Jeff “What is the secret of great leaders?” He responds that the secret is that great leaders SERVE. The book follows Debbie through her monthly mentoring meetings with Jeff as he takes her through the SERVE model. We see her applying what she has learned in those sessions, and as a result growing as a leader.
The SERVE model is:
S – See the Future.
E – Engage and Develop Others
R – Reinvent Continuously
V – Value Results and Relationships
E – Embody the Values
Here are a few takeaways I had from this book:
- A key question you must continuously ask yourself is “Am I a self-serving leader or a serving leader?”
- A person can serve without leading, but a leader can’t lead well without serving.
- A compelling vision stirs passion within you. It tells everyone who works with you who you are, where you’re going, and what will drive your behavior.
- The best leaders invest in the development of their people. Lesser leaders don’t.
- If you stop learning, you stop leading.
- People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
- All genuine leadership is built on trust. There are many ways to build trust. One way is to live consistently with the values you profess.
- People who want to be great leaders must embrace an attitude of service to others.
Spiritual Leadership: Principles of Excellence for Every Believer by J. Oswald Sanders
The author was a general director of Overseas Missionary Fellowship, (then known as China Inland Mission), in the 1950s and 1960s. The material in this book was originally delivered as lectures to the Overseas Missionary Fellowship in 1964 and 1966, and later put into book form. The book was originally published in 1967 and has become a classic on Christian leadership.
Below are two takeaways I had from the book:
- Spiritual leadership emphasizes servant hood. This type of leadership yields to God’s sovereignty and must be willing to suffer.
- A spiritual leader is one that imitates Jesus, the greatest spiritual leader of all.
The Heart of Leadership: Becoming a Leader People Want to Follow by Mark Miller
This book is written by Mark Miller, who has long worked with Chick Fil-A. I’ve read a number of his books, which are written as leadership fables.
Below are a few takeaways on servant leadership I had from the book:
- Servant leadership is an approach contrary to conventional leadership in which the leader’s focus is on himself and what he can accomplish and achieve. Rather, the focus is on those being served.
- Servant leaders do many of the same things other leaders do—cast vision, build teams, allocate resources, and so on. The big difference is their orientation and their motivation; these make all the difference in the world. They possess an others-first mindset. The servant leader constantly works to help others win.
- Servant leadership works for many reasons: First, it focuses on others—specifically, those you desire to lead. Your ever-present question is not what can you do for yourself; rather, it is how can you serve them? When decisions are made, you consider the organization and your people before you weigh the personal consequences. “Servant leadership also works because it honors people—being a servant leader acknowledges the different roles, responsibilities, and strengths of people. It is not about who’s in charge. It’s about who is responsible for what, and how can I, as the leader, help people be successful?
I hope you have enjoyed our short series on servant leadership. What book has most influenced you about the importance of being a servant leader?