Archive for November, 2011

Listening, Empathy, Conceptualization: Characteristics of Servant Leadership

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

As we have been exploring the concept, principles, and characteristics of Servant Leadership some rather obvious parallels have emerged. During the remainder of this year and into January of 2012 we will explore how these characteristics and principles align. If you are just now joining the conversation you may find it beneficial to take a quick read of our opening exploration of the topic Are you a Servant or a Slave to Your Business  as well as the follow up Servant Leadership: An Evolving Paradigm of Authentic Leadership.

This week we begin with looking at how the characteristics of Listening, Empathy and Conceptualization fulfill the principle of Transformation. You may remember Transformation in this context is a vehicle for personal and institutional growth. At The Inspired Business Center we believe that Authentic Servant Leaders use Listening, Empathy and Conceptualization to help both their people and their organization as they develop new, improved and innovative forms of meeting the needs of all their stakeholders.

As authentic leaders we know that listening can sometimes not be as easy as it sounds. Authentic listening requires us to truly step away from our own notions of what the speaker is trying to convey. I know I have been guilty of forming my response to someone while they were still speaking. I wasn’t listening as much as I was absorbing some of what they said in order to refute their point. Authentic listening requires us to suspend any consideration of a response and allow the deeper meaning behind someone’s words to inform our consciousness. We are being asked to listen for content as well as context. We are being asked to allow the speaker to completely express themselves. Now this does not mean we allow them to ramble on repeating their point or perspective over and over. If we truly believe we understand what they are trying to communicate we can seek clarity and understanding without cutting them short. If we have fully understood their point they will let us know and we can then ask a question or two to gather more information or move to the second characteristic of supporting this transformative experience.

Yes the second step is to use empathy during our response to their communication. This not only conveys that we have been truly listening without trying to make them wrong or simply presenting our perspective but supports and serves the individual in recognizing that we do truly honor their perspective and experiences. Empathy says I have been where you are and I am willing to share what I know about the situation without demanding that what I share is the only way to accomplish the desired results. The very fact that others look to us as leaders implies they expect us to have some direct knowledge or experience of the situation at hand. Empathy says “I have been where you are now.” When we lead from a place of empathy we let our employees to see how we are allowing them to make their own decisions and not just demanding they do what we may have done earlier in our careers. This process allows the employee to experience a greater sense of respect and thus willingness to listen to our perspectives as leaders.

Now we can move to the conceptualization phase. By listen empathizing with a person’s situation, experience and perspective, we can begin to build a new way of dealing with any given situation. We may just be building a new cultural paradigm within the organization. All too often as leaders we are under constant pressure from our stakeholders, or even ourselves to find just the right niche, just the right market, just the right widget or product that will propel the company forward. Naturally, it is assumed that we know the most about the organization or what has worked in the past, as we do have a wealth of past experience, otherwise we wouldn’t have ended up in a leadership position.

This is where servant based leadership becomes incredibly important. You can serve and foster a culture of transformation for the individual and the organization by using the characteristics of listening, empathy and conceptualization. You can allow transformation to become the vehicle by which the organization enters a new paradigm of Servant Leadership. When someone comes to you as a leader with a great idea, a pressing concern or even a sense of failure you can listen deeply, allow yourself to gain a new perspective of the situation, share from the place of empathy and begin to conceptualize a new perspective, new way of handling the situation. You don’t have to tell the employee what to do, how you would do it, or even what worked in the past. You have allowed the process to work on your behalf and together discovered a better way of approaching the situation. How incredibly powerful is that?

Obviously, there is so much more to becoming a Servant Leader or fostering a cultural shift in your organization and we are not suggesting you run out and try to drive this change tomorrow. At The Inspired Business Center we strive to look at all the aspects of an organization and implement the most beneficial ideas slowly, with great care and consideration. What we are asking is that you consider the positive +implications on your life and the life of your organization by allowing the wisdom and intelligence inherent within every employee to be shared throughout the organization. Servant Leadership does just that. It taps into the brain trust you have developed and instills a culture of service to a greater good. That greater good is the profitability and proliferation of your company.

During the coming months we will continue to explore how you can slowly, with great care implement the principles and characteristics of Servant Leadership. If you would like to learn more about this powerful topic just keep reading this blog, or give us a call and we will be happy to discuss the topic with you at greater length. As always, we are here to serve your business and help to create a business culture that works for everyone.

Until next time,

Robert

 

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Robert Brzezinski is an expert team member of The Inspired Business Center based in Lakewood Colorado. The Inspired Business Center collaborates with Entrepreneurs and Executives to transform their companies through a balance of practical spirituality, value-centered leadership and consistent profitability. Our team of experts guides clients on a path starting with an articulated, shared stakeholder vision to the results of fulfilling their organization’s purpose, satisfying customers, increasing profit margins and enhancing owner equity. Our approach combines purposeful people, best business practices, and proven systems. You are welcome to more fully explore “Where Spirituality, Leadership and Profitability Meet” by visiting: http://www.theinspiredbusiness.com

 

 

Photo Credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ky_olsen/3133347219/

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Servant Leadership: An Evolving Paradigm of Authentic Leadership

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

“Servant-leadership is more than a concept, it is a fact. Any great leader, by which I also mean an ethical leader of any group, will see herself or himself as a servant of that group and will act accordingly.” M. Scott Peck

Servant Leadership is not a way of aggrandizing ourselves or the position we hold. Even when the organization is one we built or started. Many leadership models are all about placing the leader on a pedestal. Making the leader the prime example of how to accomplish our goals, and fulfill our mission. Many organizations look for saviors when they are in trouble and many leaders can be set up to be the savior without knowing that is what they have agreed to. Keep in mind what we do to saviors on this planet. It rarely ends well.

Our last blog post introduced a perspective of Servant Leadership that we feel is not only beneficial to any organization, but fosters a culture of ethics and spirituality in a business setting. We looked at what are considered the principles of Servant Leadership and today we will look at the characteristics necessary to support those principles. Over the coming weeks we will take a more in depth look at each of these characteristics and how they relate to the principles themselves.

Here are the principles of servant leadership as defined by the Alliance for Servant Leadership are:

  • Transformation as a vehicle for personal and institutional growth.
  • Personal Growth as a route to better serve others.
  • Enabling Environments that empower and encourage service.
  • Service as a fundamental goal.
  • Trusting Relationships as a basic platform for collaboration and service.
  • Creating Commitment as a way to collaborative activity.
  • Community Building as a way to create environments in which people can trust each other and work together.
  • Nurturing the Spirit as a way to provide joy and fulfillment in meaningful work.

Here is what many consider the ten primary characteristics of servant based leadership:

1.     Listening

2.     Empathy

3.     Healing

4.     Awareness

5.     Persuasion

6.     Conceptualization

7.     Foresight

8.     Stewardship

9.     Commitment to the Growth of People

10.   Building Community

Even a quick scan of these characteristics leads to recognition of how closely aligned the concept of Servant Leadership and spirituality is aligned. With a few exceptions we find similarities between the aspects of living a spiritual life and leading any organization from the spiritual or servant based perspective. We want to once again remind the reader that our concept of a spiritual business is not necessarily one that profits from spiritual ideas or products. Any business can operate from sound spiritual principles and maintain their profitability regardless of their owner’s faith based belief system or lack thereof. This is not about pushing any one religion on your employees or proselytizing in any way.

The Inspired Business Center strives to facilitate leaders and organizations ability to provide spiritually based options to their employees and still maintains a healthy environment where everyone can get along regardless of where they spend their Sunday mornings. We truly are a place where Spirituality, Leadership and Profitability meet and believe your organization can be served by emulating the practices and principles that have made us successful. Our goal is to encourage you to look at how spiritual principles and processes can serve you in creating the highest and best vision of your organization.

We understand how difficult it can be as a leader and or owner of a company. We understand that not everything we suggest will align with your current paradigm. We also understand that the business world is shifting. As leaders we are being called to shift with the rising tide of a new business paradigm. Servant Leadership is a concept whose time has come and we are fully prepared to support and serve you in determining what this new paradigm can mean for you and your organization.

We invite you to join us on this exploration of how Servant Based Leadership can serve your organization during the rising tide of Spirituality in Business. We can see well off to the horizon and we know the swell is coming. We still remember the old saying that a rising tide lifts all boats. We invite you to join our fleet of boats and enjoy the collaborative atmosphere at The Inspired Business Center. Call today and learn how you can schedule a complimentary session with us. Together we can explore how you can be prepared for the cresting wave of Spirituality in Business.

Until Next Time,

Robert

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Robert Brzezinski is an expert team member of The Inspired Business Center based in Lakewood Colorado. The Inspired Business Center collaborates with Entrepreneurs and Executives to transform their companies through a balance of practical spirituality, value-centered leadership and consistent profitability. Our team of experts guides clients on a path starting with an articulated, shared stakeholder vision to the results of fulfilling their organization’s purpose, satisfying customers, increasing profit margins and enhancing owner equity. Our approach combines purposeful people, best business practices, and proven systems. You are welcome to more fully explore “Where Spirituality, Leadership and Profitability Meet” by visiting: http://www.theinspiredbusiness.com

 

 

Photo Credits:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/poptech/6035566374/in/faves-53047939@N06/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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