Guest Post: Leadership Is About Serving Your People

Today’s guest post is from a friend and a lean thinker and consultant, Mark Welch.  Mark recently shut down his blog that took a look at the similarities between Christianity and lean leadership.  Since Christmas is just a few days away, I thought this was a great time to have Mark post some of his thoughts.

Last year I read The Servant Leader by James A. Autry (also the author of Love and Profit: The Art of Caring Leadership). Without going into a full book review, I do recommend this book. As I read it the similarities between servant leadership and lean leadership became apparent.

In the first chapter Autry offers a list of six things he believes about leadership:

1. Leadership is not about controlling people. It’s about caring for them and being a useful resource for them.

2. Leadership is not about being boss; it’s about being present for people and bulding a community at work.

3. Leadership is not about holding on to territory; it’s about letting go of ego, bringing your spirit to work, and being your best and most authentic self.

4. Leadership is less concerned with pep talks and more concerned with creating a place in which people can do good work, can find meaning in their work, and can bring their spirits to work.

5. Leadership, like life, is largely a matter of paying attention.

6. Leadership requires love.

The notions of anti-command and control, humility, breaking down silos, and creating a culture in which people can do good work (good quality, safety, productivity, etc.) are very clear in his thoughts and they are consistent with lean leadership. However, while I’ve never read anything in the lean literature about requiring love, it does include a genuine concern and interest in what the customer values and for employees to have good experiences when trying to deliver value.

Jesus is the Ultimate Servant Leader. He wanted us to be servant leaders as well. In John 13: 14-15 He tells the disciples, “I, your Lord and Teacher, have just washed your feet. You, then, should wash one another’s feet. I have set an example for you, so that you will do just what I have done for you.” In Luke 22: 26-27 He is even more clear: “…rather, the greatest one among you must be like the servant. Who is greater, the one who sits down to eat or the one who serves him? The one who sits down, of course. But I am among you as one who serves.”

And of course, there is the core of our faith, His sacrifice for us at the cross while forgiving those who were crucifying and mocking Him. Is there any deeper instance of servant leadership than this?

I hope that the spirit of the Ultimate Servant Leader is with you this Christmas and into the new year.

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Posted on December 23, 2011, in Leadership and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Great post. All around us we see “Leaders” who do not abide by these principles which results in workers who have low morale and are not willing to put anything more into their jobs than is absolutely required. And they will try to do even less if they can get away with it. It is a vicious game of cat and mouse. The boss tries to control and the employee tries to avoid, emotionally more than physically. Then the Leader clamps down more and more avoidance follows until people are fed up and quit. How sad and destructive and totally unnecessary.

    Thank you as well for the reminder that in this season when we commemorate the fulfillment of prophecies and the birth of Jesus that it is only the beginning of the story of sacrificial leadership. May our minds go beyond the babe in the manger and remember that He left His place in the heavenly realms, walked a life of service, and then died in the ultimate act of self-giving love in securing our hope of eternal life.

  1. Pingback: Great Posts on Leadership | Beyond Lean

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