Broadly there are two models of leadership in our society, the power model and the service model. Sadly the former is dominant, based on achieving power and getting people to do things for you. But there is an alternative approach. The service model is based on supporting others and helping everybody get what they need.
This Autumn we are organising a conference to explore different approaches to leading by putting your people first. I am very excited to be jointly organising this event with the Greenleaf Centre for Servant Leadership.
Speakers include comedian Ruby Wax on emotional intelligence, myself and Cathy Busani from Happy, Ella Heeks of Abel & Cole, Lynn Sedgemore, CEO of the Centre for Excellence in Leadership and Kent Keith from the US Greenleaf Centre.The idea is to fully involve you and give lots of space to discuss, reflect and meet like-minded people. Numbers are limited to around 100 so please book early.
Robert Greenleaf created the concept of Servant Leadership with his essay 'The Servant as Leader', over 30 years ago. You may not have heard of him but his ideas have had wide effect with key management thinkers like Steven Covey, Ken Blanchard and Peter Senge acknowledging him as a key influence.
The concept is simple but challenging. Take your role in your organisation, whether you are Chief Executive, or have no management function. (Everybody can be a leader.) You have probably been brought up to fight your corner and put yourself first. Instead the service model proposes that true leaders listen to others and work out how to support and help them, how to be there for them.
And those organisations that have Servant Leadership at their core, such as SouthWest Airlines in the US, are some of the most successful in the world. To quote from Kent Keith's book The Case for Servant Leadership:"We have to decide. Are we going to grab, or give? Are we going to use people, or help people?"
Which model do you follow: the power model or the service model of leadership?What would you do differently tomorrow if your primary focus was on serving others in your organisation?