I read a great article a while back by Eric McNulty, “You’ve Got to Serve Someone”. The article references an extensive study that basically validated the positive impact that a culture of servant leadership has on individual and organization performance.

It is always nice to receive quantitative evidence to support what servant leaders have always believed. The secret to making a significant positive impact in this world is to be focused on the greater good of others above and beyond yourself.

I do my own informal study with leaders at every servant leadership training session that I conduct. I always ask the question, “What are attributes of the person you would hold up as your favorite boss?”

I have never heard any of the following answers:

  • Micro-manages me
  • Takes all the credit for work accomplished within our team
  • Never admits they made a mistake
  • Consistently loses their patience
  • Won’t listen to my ideas
  • Does not care what is going on in my personal life
  • Thinks they are more important than everyone else

These are all attributes of the more traditional hierarchy, positional authority leadership that unfortunately many organizations still embrace. Here is what I do hear, which further supports this study. People’s favorite bosses show the following attributes:

  • Provide clear direction on Purpose, Vision, & Values
  • Let their people know how critical they are to the organization
  • Provide earned autonomy allowing people to use their creativity and brain
  • Encourage people every step of the way
  • Drive people to new levels of performance
  • Provide training and development opportunities
  • Caring, compassionate and focus on building relationships
  • Drive trust by modeling the way

My informal research confirms people like working for servant leaders. I have also observed that the most successful organizations, as measured by profitability, sustained growth, performance, employee turnover, and employee engagement metrics, are normally led by servant leaders and have built a culture of servant leadership.

I don’t need any more data. Bottom line – people like working for servant leaders, and they perform at a higher level when they do. Organizations and communities benefit as well. Case closed. What are you doing to drive a culture of servant leadership within your platform?

“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave to all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.”   Mark 10:43-45


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MARK Deterding is an author, speaker, consultant, executive coach and the founder of Triune Leadership Services, LLC. His purpose is to work with leaders to help them develop core servant leadership capabilities that allow them to lead at a higher level and enable them to achieve their God-given potential. He has written two books, A Model of Servant Leadership, and Leading Jesus’ Way. With over three decades of experience directing companies and developing leaders, Mark created A Model of Servant Leadership parallel to the principles that Jesus himself illustrated. Working with organizations, leadership teams, and executives one-on-one, he helps bring focus, clarity, and action to make things work. He also conducts training programs to teach faith-based servant leadership principles. His greatest passion is seeing the impact servant leadership has on people’s lives and beyond. Prior to Triune Leadership Services he worked for 35 years in the printing industry holding senior leadership positions at Taylor Corporation, RR Donnelly, and Banta Corporation. He is an accomplished executive with a proven track record for developing purpose-driven; values based teams that drive culture improvement, enhanced employee passion, and improved business results. He is featured in Ken Blanchard’s book “Leading at a Higher Level”, and has been a featured speaker for the Ken Blanchard Companies Executive Forum in both 2007 and 2011. Mark lives in Alexandria, Minnesota with his wife Kim. They have two sons, two daughter-in-laws, and three grandchildren, so far. To find out more about Mark and his work, visit Triune Leadership Services via the Link adjacent his Photo above.
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