Now Trending: Service

I’ve written three previous “Now Trending” articles on honesty, generosity, and accountability. These are important posts because what I’m doing is laying out a business agenda for the 21st century that hones in on the values that will sustain business well into the future.

nowtrending-serviceWho can forget the compelling depiction of the corrosive effects of greed on the financial sector in the movie Wall Street, starring Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen? Daring, go-getter attitudes combined with the availability of cheap debt led many down a path devoid of moral values. What we’ve seen since then is how that lack of values can lead to bubbles that inevitably burst, whether it’s the dot-com bubble of the 1990s or the more recent housing bubble and Great Recession caused in part by less-than-moral lending practices and seeking the quick buck at all costs. Without good values and virtues, the bottom can fall out from under us very quickly.

Millennials in particular are known to want more service and volunteer opportunities facilitated through their jobs. The Case Foundation and Achieve teamed up to produce the The 2014 Millennial Impact Report, and it reveals that civic engagement is on the rise throughout corporate America, but especially among millennials. A third of them note that a company’s volunteer policies played a part in their willingness to apply for a job, 39% said it helped them decide whether or not to interview, and 55% said it was important to their decision to accept a job offer. As millennials make up a greater and greater share of the workforce (probably 50% by 2020), companies need to make sure that they can help millennials give back to the community as a part of their employment. Doing so will boost employee engagement, loyalty, and retention.

The way this plays out in organizational leadership is a concept call servant leadership. The phrase was coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in his 1970 book, The Servant as Leader. In this approach, leaders see themselves primarily as servants rather than more traditional leaders. It’s an approach that places the whole notion of service front and center in the lives and work of leaders. It’s about putting the needs of other first, before the needs of self. It’s about making sure supporting the growth and well-being of others is the primary concern.

Here are the 10 principles and practices that servant-leaders base their leadership on:

  1. Listening. Giving people your full, undivided attention shows you actually care about what they’re saying.
  2. Empathy. Empathy is more than sympathy – it’s showing you truly understand what the other person is going through.
  3. Healing. Recognizing when harm has been done is one thing, but it takes a different kind of care and attention to ensure that healing happens.
  4. Awareness. More than just showing concern for others, a high level of self awareness is also needed.
  5. Persuasion. Rather than relying on positional authority, learn how to make a real case for what you want to see happen.
  6. Conceptualization. In order to build a compelling vision that people will want to follow, you need to be able to fully conceptualize what you’re all about.
  7. Foresight. This is about not only understanding lessons from the past, but also being able to do so with present realities in mind.
  8. Stewardship. This includes not only mindful use of company resources, but also understanding the impact of company operations on the community.
  9. Commitment to the growth of people. Servant leaders have the deepest understanding that people are every organization’s greatest resource.
  10. Building community. This includes not only building a sense of community within the company, but also with the surrounding people and institutions upon which the company depends.

If some of those leave you scratching your head and wondering what they really mean in the company environment, you can expect to see more posts about many of them in future “Now Trending” articles.

March 2, 2015   Updated :June 11, 2015   company culture, company values, servant leadership, service, values, workplace trends   

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