First a quote: “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” – Ken Blanchard
Congratulations on your promotion… “You’re now the boss.” I remember hearing those words for the very first time over 30 years ago. I had finally arrived, now I would have the opportunity to make things happen, to get things done, to manage the way I thought the world should be managed. And as an fyi, most of what I thought I knew about management was learned during summer jobs on a railroad “rock gang”, a beef packing plant, a grease gun factory and a few years as a “bag boy” in a rural grocery store.
So, there I was, a first-time manager. Wow… was I in for a rude awakening. Managing others was not easy, many days were not fun and certainly, not what I had imagined as I looked forward in my career to being in a management role… to be the boss. I’m pretty sure I made every possible mistake a new manager could make, and then some. I had so much to learn, starting with a fundamental view of what management was, should be, and most importantly, what it could be. Also of course, what management wasn’t.
Fortunately for me, I launched my career in an organization that thought, and taught, differently than much of the business world at that time. Before “Servant Leadership” and the “Upside-down Pyramid” were popular, our organization espoused a set of cultural values called the Jewel Concepts. Central to those tenets was the idea that people didn’t “work for, or serve” their manager. In fact, the exact opposite was critically important … managers serve the people they manage. It was called the “First Assistant” philosophy.
Following is a quote from the Jewel Concepts first published in 1972 and updated in 1982; “Helping others succeed is the key to being a successful manager. Managers understand they do not “run” their part of the business, rather they assist those who do.”
The cultural expectation was that managers were to serve as “first assistants” to the people they managed; to remove barriers and obstacles to performance; to teach, train & develop; to serve those who served the company’s cash-paying customers on the front lines. Managers were not to be served, not to be seen or treated as special or privileged, not to, in any way, perceive themselves as “above” or more important than those they led.
Related to these beliefs, one of my many life mentors taught me the following; “Managers should never be afraid to use their authority, and the best leaders, rarely do.” One of my personal beliefs is that management, as a practice, tends to be about hands, backs and behinds. We manage what people do, how they do it, maybe where they do it, etc. However, leadership tends to be more about heads, hearts and spirits… those aspects of what it means to be fully human, cannot be managed, only influenced. While you might manage hands, backs and behinds, people volunteer their head, heart and spirit. Fully engaged people are volunteers, not workers, not employees.
While managements skills, abilities and practices are certainly important, it is your leadership abilities that bring out the fullest potential of those you lead and influence… those you serve.
Here are a few questions for you to ponder as you begin this week:
• Are you personally leading in a way that encourages people to volunteer their heads, hearts and spirits… their full being?
• Who is serving who in your organization?
• Are leaders in your organization serving team members in the same manner expected of them in service of their customers, both internal and external? If you are disappointed with your current customer service levels, the place to start is how your service delivery people are being managed.
• Who will you personally serve better this week?
How will you lead differently, or better, this week?
Do you know someone who might benefit from this weekly leadership minute? If so, please feel free to pass along the subscription link below:
Have a great week!!
“Expanding Your Capacity for Success”