Leading by Serving—5 Essential Ingredients to Becoming a Leader People Want to Follow

share_16Regardless of their formal title or position, people who want to be great leaders must embrace an attitude of service to others. That’s the message that Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller share in the 10th anniversary edition of their bestselling business book, The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do.

Leaders can find countless ways to serve the people they lead, and they should always be on the lookout for new and different ways to do this. However, there are at least five critical ways leaders must serve if they want to be as effective as possible.

  1. See the Future. The ability to envision and communicate a compelling picture of a preferred future. Leaders must help the people they lead see the destination, as well as the advantages of going there. Everybody needs to see who they are, where they are going, and what will guide their journey.
  2. Engage and Develop Others. Recruiting and selecting the right people for the right job while creating an environment where people wholeheartedly invest themselves in achieving the vision. Blanchard and Miller believe that engaging is a two-part proposition. The first part is to recruit and select the right people for the right job. That means to get the right players on the team. The second part is to do whatever it takes to engage the hearts and the heads of the people. Historically, the authors point out that many leaders have employed the hands and nothing else—and that’s probably where the term “hired hands” comes from. The best leaders engage the head and heart of their employees in addition to their hands.
  3. Reinvent Continuously. To possess a never-ending focus on improvement. Blanchard and Miller believe a leader must be willing to reinvent on at least three levels. The first is personal. Some key questions they recommend asking are: How am I learning and growing as a leader? and What am I doing to encourage others in my group to constantly learn and reinvent themselves? The second level of reinvention is systems and processes: How are we doing the work? How can we do it better? and What changes would enhance our ability to serve our customers and each other? The third type of reinvention involves the structure of the organization. A recommended question to ask here is: What structural changes do we need to make to be more efficient and effective?
  4. Value Results and Relationships. The ability to generate positive, measurable results AND cultivate great relationships with those you lead. Leading at a higher level includes both results and relationships. The authors encourage leaders to put equal emphasis on both.  According to Ken Blanchard, “We traditionally teach people the important skills they need to get results: problem solving, decision making, and so on. Leaders need to put an equal emphasis on building relationships and connecting with people.  It’s both/ and, not either/ or.”
  5. Embody the Values. To live in a fashion consistent with your stated values. This is fundamental and ongoing, explain Blanchard and Miller. If a leader loses their credibility, their leadership potential will be greatly limited. Aspiring leaders must do more than articulate values—they must live their values every day.

TheSecret3rdHow would you rate yourself in these five areas?  In your experience, which of these five attributes holds leaders back most often?

For the new 10th anniversary edition, Blanchard and Miller have added a skills assessment and a special new section with their reflections on helping leaders develop these skills.  For new leaders looking to improve their ability to bring out the best in themselves and others, The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do provides an inspiring road map. You can learn more about the book, read an opening chapter, and access additional resources at this special book page.  To participate in a complimentary September 29 webinar that Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller are conducting on the key concepts of The Secret, click here!

15 thoughts on “Leading by Serving—5 Essential Ingredients to Becoming a Leader People Want to Follow

  1. Pingback: Leading by Serving—5 Essential Ingredients to Becoming a Leader People Want to Follow | lizstincelli

  2. Excellent article, very detailed and thought provoking. In regards leadership, I once wrote; Leadership is bringing people into new realms of excellence and challenging them to become distinguished in their chosen field. ~ O. Anyado 2014.

    • Hi Onyi–thanks for your comment and reminder that leadership is about helping people get to places and levels of achievement that benefit both them and their organizations. It’s not so strange to see leadership as a form of service to others when you look at it this way!

  3. Pingback: Main by Serving—5 Important Elements to Turning into a Chief Individuals Need to Comply with | Posts

    • Hi John–thanks for reblogging this post on your website. It looks like we are like-minded. I saw on your website that a part of your mission is to help others reach their potential through recognizing and releasing their unique giftedness–a great mission statement for all leaders!

      • David, thank you for your kind remarks! I definitely thought you.wrote a wonderful and insightful post and it deserves more recognition. As well, it’s my goal to start promoting others’ works as I can. Thank you and let’s stay in touch! -John

  4. Excellent, snapshot post. With regards to your question of which of the 5 hold leaders back most; my experience has been #2. First, leaders may not always have the opportunity to initially select the right people for the right job and spend too much time trying to engage someone without the skill set or heart for the job. Second, treating associates as “hire hands” is a sign of poor leadership and can become very expensive.

    • Hi Todd–thanks for adding to our conversation. Selection and engagement are important at all levels in the organization. I keep thinking that selection is going to be the “next big thing” that we are talking about in the leadership arena. One of the traits for an aspiring leader that I would be looking for is someone who is “others focused” vs. “self-focused.” To me, that seems like a prerequisite for a good leader.

  5. The idea that leaders should communicate their vision to the employees really resonants. I think the lack of communication is one of the main reasons many managers feel their employees are disengaged.

  6. As usual, great thought-provoking and action-provoking blog and comments.

    Do we remember when we first wanted to become leaders? What were we doing? For most of us, we were followers. Not only were we great producers, excelling at operational levels, but we were influencing others and supporting the actions of others while serving as informal peer leaders.

    No one paid us to lead. No one rewarded us for supporting the success of others. We did it because we believed whole-heartedly in what we were doing. We didn’t do it for ourselves or for recognition. We stayed below the radar and we did what we did for them – for others.

    This is the part of the mojo that many leaders – many of us – forget and consequently fail to practice. Re-learn to lead and positively influence others effectively by practicing the same types of principle-based, supportive, title-less, richly influencing behaviors that got our juices flowing in the first place!

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