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Servant Leaders Take Orders

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to cement team building and enhance trust. Reading time: 2:38

         You’re a nobody. At least you feel that way as a third stringer. You’re sitting on the sidelines of life. You never get in the game. No one ever cheers for you. No one cares. Then suddenly you find yourself sitting in first class. Even the first stringers –the stars—defer to you. Dreaming?

        No. Leading with class.

       Take it from a highly successful leader – Bo Schembechler – former head football coach at the University of Michigan especially if you’re trying to reinforce values like commitment and loyalty over the long-erm.

     On charter flights to away games all 20 of the seats in first class were reserved for senior football players. No coaches. No alumni. No fat cats. Just seniors. No matter if you played third string.

         And no matter if you were a highly recruited top player but NOT yet a senior.         The first class treatment for the senior class player sent a clear message: we value hard work over time even if you’re not the top players on the team. You’ve earned our respect.

You’ve Earned Our Respect

       How do you pay respect to your rank and file employees? Of course you can’t give everyone a financial reward or even first class seats on an airplane. But you can make your people feel especially appreciated.

     You could serve your product development team dinner when they were working under deadline pressure. The executives of a software company felt hopeless. After all, they didn’t write code. The fortunes of this project was now in the hands of computer programmers working late into the night.

    The executives decided they could help. They dressed like formal servers –bow tie and all–as in a five-star restaurant and then personally served a catered dinner to each of the 14 programmers working late that night. The development team got the message and their customer got the product shipped on time.

     Indeed, servant leaders TAKE orders more than issue them. And food is often a cost-effective and much appreciated tool to engage your workforce.

     That’s why George Washington at Valley Forge lived in tent like his troops foregoing the farmhouse he commandeered and eating the same food as his men.

     That’s why officers aboard the guided missile destroyer the USS Benfold were no longer allowed to pull rank in the food line, according to Captain D. Michael Abrashoff, writing in his book It’s Your Ship.

    And that’s why in thousands of manufacturing plants, supervisors host a cookout and serve their employees much more than food for their stomachs.

    Servant Leaders also serve food for the soul. Sometimes even in first class —at 30,000 feet.

Today’s ImproveMINT

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