Embracing Level 5 / Servant Leadership: That’s my passion for 2015! My intent is to help everyone I encounter to see and then begin to move towards becoming a true servant leader. What I am discovering is that most people have an understanding of what they think a servant leader is but most struggle in knowing what to do or respond to life’s circumstances as a servant leader. Therefore, my main mission this year is to raise the bar. Yes, and it needs to start with me!
Here is a fascination for me—the “Buddy Boss trap” in leadership (Level 3).
This week, talking with an executive from a command and control leadership environment
(Level 2), I realized they think Level 3 (Buddy Boss) is a servant leader because they are trying to be helpful from their perspective while trying to build a friendly relationship. This is not servant leadership. But for the command and control leader, it might seem so. Currently, it is being dismissed and even frowned upon because it seems too soft. Ah, “the trap of Buddy Boss….” When you need to take corrective action or discipline, your associate is wondering “where did my Buddy go?”
Let’s take a quick dive into Level 3, Buddy Boss or Parent Child. The classic definition of a Level 3 leader is still about controlling the subordinate, just in a friendlier way! The problem is with information flow. Even with a great, parent child relationship, the kids never tell the parents everything and the parents sometimes think the kids do not have a need to know… Hmmm. Do you see the parallels in business? Now we are making decisions without all the information which may lead to bad decision making. Also, an undercurrent of mistrust may emerge. This is why we call it a “trap;” it is the fall back position because it is more comfortable and that can lead to dysfunctional decision making.
We need to avoid Level 3 and get to Levels 4 and 5. It takes a major shift in the leader’s thinking from control to true helpfulness from the subordinate’s point of view. The challenge is many organizations are stuck at Level 3 due to pressure from above to hold people accountable. So to be relational they think about being nice and friendly and ask questions about their family and weekends thinking that asking such questions will make them more relational. The problem in most cases is that it feels forced, and not genuine. Subordinates see through the facade and, in turn, feel they are being played and are not very important. In the above example, is the self-centered building a “relationship?” If so, on behalf of what, and for whom?
Becoming a Level 5 leader is not building a relationship to be liked, but rather to connect and communicate at a deeper level to ultimately become more helpful to others. This, in turn, makes people feel more important and engaged in their work.
Human Relation Principal of the week.
Become genuinely interested in others.
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