In a world where everyday interactions becoming a series of activities that promote your value over helping others achieve success, I wonder if Servant Leaders are becoming extinct.
With a lot of leadership styles to choose from, I glommed on to Ken Blanchard’s work almost 30 years ago as something I could understand, remember and implement because it aligned well with what I was sort of doing without a guidebook. It was easier back then to be a Servant Leader because I had a lot of role models. Now granted I had a lot of the dark side cousin, Self-Serving Leaders, as role models too, but I saw that style as a losing proposition.
In the past 15 years, Self-Serving Leaders have taken over most of the management roles in corporate America, and in their midst of self-promotion have left carnage in their wake. It is tougher to be a Servant Leader in a corporate culture that rewards self-serving activities more. It used to be a self-serving leader was called out for their behaviors but now they are ignored, or worse, out of fear they are supported.
I bet there is a self-serving leader in your company that you can identify because they do everything to promote themselves, while they work overtime to diminish the value of others. In fact it is this last point I want to emphasis in this blog today.
This individual will often performance manage other employees around them in order to build up themselves as being indispensable. If the only person left standing that knows their job is the Self-Serving Leader, then mission accomplished! It doesn’t matter if you are a subordinate, peer or the manager; you must never come off knowing more than they do. They want to be feared and often they are, so they remain the center of attention.
Servant Leaders are more productive and have less time to play games, especially defense. They will fight to protect their team members, yet often lose their own battles with the dark side.
The only times I see Servant Leadership completely win out over Self-Serving Leadership is when the top boss in a Servant Leader. They simply do not tolerate the disruption of the Self-Serving Leader and eliminate these people. Ask any CEO that is a Servant Leader if they have Self-Serving Leaders in their organization and they will either say No, or yes but not for much longer. Powerful!
I hope you have had the privilege to have worked with at least one Servant Leader. Chances are all of you have had a Self-Serving Leader in your career. Share in the comments the pluses and minuses you have experienced. But please don’t use their real names.