Why Servant Leadership Is Not Friendship

Servant leadership is not friendship. Jim Woods 

Servant leadership is not friendship. Jim Woods 

The consequences of inept leadership and ethics have been calamitous, and the effects are bound to be enduring. One thing is clear: we must do better.  Leaders, managers, and front-line workers should commit to building excellent, ethical, and enduring organizations far removed from selfish underpinnings of power. 

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But, how does one adeptly merge servant leadership with leadership? Ultimately, someone has to get things done? A servant leader is not an autocrat making policies devoid of others that may prove to be an imposition.  A servant leader becomes a facilitator through a collaborative approach. This ensuing humility enables those being led not pushed, to share responsibility and feel a sense of ownership for their work which in turn increases dedication and a sense of pride. 

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Pseudo practitioners of servant leadership are hesitant to admit they have a lack of desire to completely adapt to this lifestyle absent the glorification of leadership and it's titles. The clamor for incremental change taking years to incorporate and only then tenuously by design. Assuming 70% of change programs failing, I am compelled to question how many are dead on arrival by aristocrats determined to have one foot on "humble servant leadership" and the other clung to "my way or the highway in their sanctums.

To be a leader who effectively navigates discipleship and leadership requires self-control not manipulation. Authenticity not measured by status not the private persona. In our research we found this strategy below worked well to guide limiting beliefs about discipleship in today's flux of leadership.

Get close. 

Maintain your distance. This is after all leadership, not friendship. There is a magnificent way for the truly authentic leader to be the boss and “friend.” Genuinely caring is a form of friendship. Successful leaders manage relationships through understanding when to empathize or get personal and when to step back to keep employees focused on their dreams. To completely recognize what makes employees tick you need to get close, to ask questions that move past professional aspirations to learn their interests, goals, and passions.

Now, that being said, what have you, me, the board done to make people's lives and jobs matter?  Do we tell them to "shut up and keep quiet?" When I was in the US Navy with more ideas than obedience, I recall my Chief saying "Woods, if we wanted you to think we would have hired someone else." Alternatively, do we treat them the way we wanted to be treated? Servant leadership is not a lack of power. It is an exponential growth in achieving outcomes from the inside out. We can help your firm or you personally. Jim

About Jim Woods

Jim Woods is President of Woods Kovalova Group, a leading management consultancy serving Board and C-level executives, managers, and individuals by helping them create a culture of leadership. Jim served in the U.S. Navy as a Seabee during the Vietnam era. He is an author, a former fifth grade and university teacher with an impressive resume. Jim is happily married to Lucy Kovalova-Woods vice-president of Woods Kovalova group. He is beloved by audiences. To schedule a speaking engagement with Jim please schedule an engagement here. Go>. Connect with him on TwitterFacebook, and Linkedin. Contact Jim to turn your leadership into a competitive advantage. What can we do for you today?