The Institute of Advanced Leadership's Home Page / Thoughts On Leadership By CEO's & Other Leadership Authorities / An article from The Center for Servant Leadership, by Tony Lenart

This article appeared on p3 of the first issue (Winter '98) of "Leadership: A Way of Being", the Newsletter of The Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership (Australia/NZ), and is also contained in the book, "Uncommon Leadership" by Tony Lenart


The way that companies around the world conduct their businesses
is currently evolving at a very rapid rate.

In 1991 the Australian Government commissioned
the "Industry Task Force on Leadership and Management Skills"
"to find pathways to lasting change and improvement
through seeking enterprise and individual-driven solutions to the problems
and challenges facing Australia's business leaders ..."
"Following almost three years of consultations,
research, study missions and analysis, the Task Force" prepared a report,
commonly known as the Karpin Report, which they believe provided
"the most comprehensive insight ever
into the way Australia prepares its managers for work and leadership". (1)

The first three paragraphs of the (64 page) executive summary
stated that "most developments mark a move away
from a structural model of organisations
towards one that emphasises more behavioural and interpersonal aspects of strategy,
especially in the case of larger organisations",
and quoted (and agreed with) research from the Boston Consulting Group
(one of the world's largest management consultancies)
identifying the emerging profile of senior management
as shifting from 'The Autocrat' (in 1970 and previously)
to 'The Communicator (today)
and becoming 'The Leader/Enabler' (by 2010).

Autocratic management is almost universally accepted
as counter-productive over the longer term.
Managers are recognising this
and are now looking at new ways
to increase productivity and profits
without breeding resentment.
They are looking at how to become true leaders
who inspire and empower their colleagues and staff.

Mike Nadler, as the CEO of the Australian Institute of Management (NSW)
wrote a short article titled "Leadership in the Nineties".
In this article he contended that the most important leadership quality
is that the leader aims primarily to serve.
He points out that Robert Greenleaf's essay, "The Servant as Leader"
has "influenced almost all of today's top management thinkers.
His work has been called the touchstone for a good deal of the revolution
in Leadership and Management which is now sweeping
progressive institutions in the United States and Australia." (2)
"The Servant as Leader" tells us that
"The servant-leader is servant first...
It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first.
Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead...
The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant
- first to make sure that other people's highest priority needs
are being served.

The best test, and most difficult to administer, is:
do those served grow as persons;
do they, while being served,
become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous,
more likely themselves to become servants?
And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society;
will they benefit, or at least, not be further deprived?"

In my own corporate training and consulting work
I have observed that the most enterprising of organisations
are recognising the benefits of this approach
and that there is a marked change in the willingness of corporate managers
to look at themselves
and improve their people skills and attitudes
in order to bring out the best in their staff.

Indeed, the most succesful managers I know
have chosen to work one-on-one in developing their leadership abilities,
to become the sort of managers, the sort of people who brings out the best in their staff,
- who's employees do become healthier, wiser, freer, happier, more autonomous,
more loving, more powerful, and more likely themselves to become servants.

When I'm not doing One-on-One Leadership Development,
the areas that I am most often asked to train employees in
Teamwork, Leadership and Customer Service.
It recently dawned on me
that the acronym for these three areas is "T.L.C."
(An acronym widely recognised as standing for "Tender Loving Care").

This seems appropriate to me
because the underlying trait
of those who provide the best teamwork, leadership or customer service
is that they aim to serve.

The Oxford Dictionary defines service as
"To be useful".
Through service we add meaning to our lives.
Through service we self actualise.
Through service we find true happiness.
Through service we add value.
Adding value: being of service, is the function of any organisation.
And the primary determinant of the level of a corporation's profit
is the degree of value that organisation adds.

A manager who wishes to be of value to the organisation
must be a leader who wishes to serve his staff.
He will aim to support them, to inspire and to help them grow.
And he will do this in a way which also brings him happiness
through his own development,
and which keeps the company's owners and senior management happy.

Tony Lenart

(1) Letter from David Karpin, Chairman of the Industry Task Force on Leadership and Management Skills, to The Hon. Simon Crean MP, Minister for Employment, Education and Training; which accompanied the submission of the Task Force's report to his office; and which is reproduced at the front of the report, also known as "Enterprising Nation - renewing Australia's managers to meet the challenges of the Asia-Pacific Century", Australian Government Publishing Service, 1995.

(2) "Leadership in the Nineties - A message from Mike Nadler, C.E.O.", p3, "Connections" - the supplement to The Australian Institute of Management's "Management" magazine, January/February 1996.

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