Thursday, October 15, 2009

Servant Leadership is NOT for

I speak often on the value of Servant Leadership, giving first, and pay-it-forward mindsets in business, networking, and life.  I am asked by small and very large groups to cover this subject and how combined with social networking it has helped our company drive revenues.

Today, I'd like to cover what Servant Leadership is not for.

First, it is not for takers.  Takers are people who for a number of reasons find it hard if not impossible to give.  Reasons vary from selfish natures, desperation, greed, and bad habits hard to shake.  Whatever the reason, they go to a networking event, shove a card in a person's face and vomit all over them about what they do and what they are looking to find.  They don't even bother to ask about the person they are talking with or their needs because they have 10, 100, or 500 cards that they must get to all of the people in attendance before time runs out.  But, whatever they do, no matter how hard they try, they tend to push people away or turn them off.

Second, pretentious should avoid Servant Leadership.  To them, networking is a waste anyway.  They either know everyone they will ever need to know, or they know how to buy a list of them.  They either refuse to consider even a reciprocal relationship or they find meeting people a waste of time.  Their short-sidedness means that in times of need they must learn how to network.  More often than not, they find themselves in the takers camp then because of desperation.  These people bring nothing to a true pay-it-forward networking event and should avoid them for everyone else's sake.

Third, complainers should avoid Give First events.  They tend to complain about the local sports team, or the weather, or the market.  Their small talk becomes way too large a part of the conversation if there is one.  They typically find complaining easier than listening, easier than caring, and easier than paying-it-forward.  They waste everyone's time because they are off-purpose.

I know well all three of these because I was one at one time or another.

Instead of being a taker, I decided to care.  I decided to listen with two ears and speak with one mouth in like proportion and on-topic and on-purpose.  I decided to step out in faith and believe "give and it will be given to you."  I saw it lived out in the lives of heroes in my life and realized that fear had been what held me back.

I recovered from pretentiousness twice.  Once, I was a geek who didn't like to be bothered by the repetitive questions of "users" (I still am working on this by the way).  I was also tempted by and lured into pretentiousness because I am the son of a very successful business owner and grew wary of those who'd seek to take advantage of me.  Again fear was the culprit and fear tried to drive me off-purpose.

Finally, I still struggle with a positive attitude.  The market can bring me down, or the desperation of the lives around me can affect me.  I find it a steeped battle to keep my mind on good things.  But, I know now that this battle impacts the results in not just my life, but the lives of those around me.  I know that the balance between stark realist and Polly Anna positive should always, always tip in favor of the glass being half full.  Life is already depressing enough if we dwell on it, so I have learned to chose to dwell on thing that are of good report.

Maybe, someone reading this finds them in one of these three camp or another camp I failed to mention.  Maybe they struggle with whether value can be found in Servant Leadership netweaving?  I pray that this article gives them courage.  You two can find purpose in listening more than you talk, being positive, and treating every person as the valuable person they are despite where they are right now.

I will never graduate from this.  I realize that like being a recovering geek on the 12 step program, I will always be on the path of netweaving and Servant Leadership and paying-it-forward.  I can never attain perfection.  There will always be more I can give.  This is the legacy I want to leave behind.

At the last InHouston, my Servant Leadership Netweaving monthly mixer, several people came up to me to thank me for instigating this sort of networking group in Houston and sharing the Servant Leadership mindset.  They shared how they had feared it at first as well, however through perseverance they overcame that fear and persisted until now they enjoy listening, giving first, and finding value in every person they talked to that night.  These people encouraged me and I found assurance that I am being on-purpose in doing this.

To your netweaving success,
Eric Standlee