“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.”
– Max Depree
As a business leader, you have a lot of responsibilities. One is to raise funds. Set the vision. Ensure great, not just good, hiring takes place. Win clients. Establish superior client service. And keep the focus.
With your team it’s a bit of a different lens. You need to be frank about where your company is (reality) and then define a new reality: Where is the new vision your company will live?
That is inspiration.Yet it needs to be real, boots-on-the-ground, actionable, possible. It’s not the Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) from the 90s. Yes, it’s a Big Goal, with a fresh new vision. And it is achievable if your team works together, works hard, and works with focus.
Your day as a leader is filled with multiple decisions, unexpected interruptions, people needing to talk or needing extra coaching, board requests, and exciting news (UniversalGiving was featured in Ariana Huffington’s new book Thrive!)
Your day must also be filled with slow, clear-eyed thank-you’s. Recognition of people and what they do. Appreciation privately, and appreciation expressed in front of a few team members, or the whole team. Vary your thank-you’s and your gratitude. Being thankful is not a command. You have to feel it and live it, or it won’t work. 🙂
And while you must be a commander, a leader, a firm, positive person who is out to change the world, and help others to do so, you must also be completely “flattened.” What I mean by that, is that you are never fully in control “at the top.” People need your direction from on high, but they also need to know you want their feedback from a lower position looking up to them. You encourage their ideas. You are present, and helpful. You listen. All of this is part of serving.
And there are so many other ways to serve, too. Recently, I started taking my work out to the general lunch place, and talking with some of my team. I was accessible and some wonderful conversations took place. I feel connected in a completely different way, and feel such love for such creative, hardworking, caring people with whom I am so honored to work.
Servanthood is not just about helping, not just about listening. Sometimes, it’s about taking the time. Please share with us the ways you serve!
As you lead, you must define the current reality, and define a new reality. You should thank people. And serve, listen and cherish all along the way. Not a bad recipe for any relationship in life. 🙂
Enjoy leading and serving!
Max De Pree (born October 28, 1924) is an American businessman and writer. His book Leadership is an Art has sold more than 800,000 copies. In 1992, De Pree was inducted into Junior Achievement’s U.S. Business Hall of Fame. He has been involved with the Max De Pree Center for Leadership (established in 1996 as the De Pree Center) since its establishment.
He fostered the idea of an inclusive corporation, one in which all voices are heard. He was known for his efforts to combine a caring organization with business success. As opposed to the idea of a golden parachute, he proposed the idea of a silver parachute, in which terminated employees who had worked more than 2 years for a company would receive benefits according the number of years served.
He encouraged open communication in the organization. He was often heard to say “Err on the side of over-communication.”