Wednesday, December 7, 2011

SERVE: Engage and Develop Others

Today, we're going to look at the second of five concepts The Secret teaches us in the acronym SERVE. We learned yesterday that the S stands for See the Future.

The first E stands for Engage and Develop Others.

See the Future
Engage and Develop Others

Let's break it into two parts: Engage, and then Develop.

The first component of Engage is selecting the right people for the right job. That's a very challenging job. You have to be careful to not make mistakes, because if you put the wrong person in the wrong place, you'll end up losing time, mental energy, and emotional energy. The performance of your team will decline and many opportunities will be missed because you or someone else will have to constantly be picking up that person's mess. And if you choose to fire him, then you must pay for the cost of recruiting, selecting, and training a new person. And don't forget the cost of morale. Other people suffer when a poor performer is on their team, just as they excel when an excellent performer is on their team. If you want a good example of what I mean, just look at the Indianapolis Colts. With Peyton Manning, two Super Bowls, multiple playoff wins, and several winning seasons. Without Peyton Manning, they cannot win a game. The rest of the team plays better when an excellent performer like Peyton is on the field, just as they play poorly when that person is absent (and replaced by a person far less talented).

So if you're ever in the position of hiring new people, be very selective. Look for the type of person your organization is missing and needs to succeed. Look for someone with a winning attitude, a servant's heart, and a set of skills valuable to your organization. And be sure to know who the candidate really is. Do multiple interviews to see if the person is genuine. Do more than a simple thirty minute interview and a background check. In the words of The Secret, "Let me give you one quote to consider. It's from Peter Drucker, the management and leadership guru. He was asked, 'What is the most important decision an executive makes?' He responded, 'Who does what.' Getting the right people in the right jobs is the first part of the term Engage."

The second component is about how passionate your team is for their jobs. Remember in SERVE: See the Future when I quoted The Secret, saying, "If you aren't passionate about something out there in the future - if it doesn't fire you up and get you out of bed in the morning - you can bet your team is not going to be passionate either"? That applies here. If you're selling a product, you want your staff to be as excited about the product as the buyer. And as the leader, it's your job to figure out how to make that happen. Each business and organization is different, so it'll look a little different for everyone. Look for ways to get your team passionate your product- and your company values.

I would say that the third component is the relationships you have with your team. As a leader and boss, it can be hard to find a happy balance between being friends with and being the boss of your employees. However, I will elaborate futher on this subject in another post.

So far, we've mostly addressed the Engage part of the second concept. So now let's look at Develop.

In the most simple description, Develop means to training. I've heard it said that the day you stop learning is the day you stop leading. In the words of The Secret, "Developing others involves creating the expectation for learning and growing; creating training and development opportunities; providing educaiton resources... and mentoring." I would say this is where evaluation comes in. There's two kinds of evaluation: self-evaluation, and evaluation by others. Let's look at self-evaluation.

I highly value self-evaluation. In order to be a good servant leader, you must be able and willing to evaluate yourself. You cannot fix something if you don't know it's broken, and you can't improve if you don't know what you need to improve on. And that's the point of evaluation.

When you evaluate yourself, you must ask yourself questions and review your actions to see if you need to improve anywhere. I try to do this as much as possible. I take the time to do this each morning, throughout the day, and each night. It's helpful to find a quiet spot, such as an unused room or a bathroom. I'll replay my conversations, decisions, and observations in my head and evaluate them. If I see an area I need to improve, I take note of that and try to do it right the next time. If I see an area of growth, I applaud myself and encourage myself to keep it up. I'll ask questions like, "Did I do this right?", "Is there a better way to do that?", "Should I have handled that differently?", or "What would a more mature response have been?" As a leader, you must always be self-evaluating. I believe this is one of the most important things a leader could ever do.

But it isn't a perfect system. Sometimes we are blind to our imperfections. These areas are called blindspots. And this is why it's important to be evaulated by others. I recently approached several coworkers and managers at Chick-fil-A and asked them, "What are some things I do well, and some things I need to work on?" As they gave me their feedback, I listened and I took to heart what they said. Almost everyone said I had one major area to work on, and that was gaining the respect of my peers. This was a blindspot. I didn't know I needed to gain their respect because I thought I already had it. But the evaluations said otherwise and thus revealed a blindspot. This happened about a month ago, and it was when I realized that I was a self-serving leader, not a servant leader. So I decided to change and become a servant leader instead of a self-centered leader. But I didn't really know what that meant or how to change. My boss and old youth pastor had coincidentally given me several books on servant leadership. The timing was perfect! I had the materials I needed! So I began to read and absorbed everything the books told me. I've been learning so many new things and it's really exciting! After reading Radical by David Platt, I realized the importance of living a life that brought all glory and attention to God and not me. And I wanted my leadership style and how I treated people to reflect that. So that's where I'm at right now, blogging about servant leadership. All because some very awesome people took the time to sincerely evaluate me and tell me some things I needed to work on.

(Disclaimer: I don't want you to get the idea that it's okay for you to go around telling people everything they need to work on. That wouldn't get you the results you desire, unless you desire to hurt a lot of feelings and step on a lot of toes. Please note that I asked to be evaluated. And also recognize that some companies have timed evaluations. Some schedule employee evaluations each month, others each year. It just depends. So note the system your company uses or, if you're in a position to do so, implement a system so that people can be evaluated.)

As I wrap up this post, I encourage you to take what you've read to heart. I treasure evaluations. As you've read, I evaluate myself constantly. The results are that I'm always growing, improving, and changing. And if you're like me and trying to become a servant leader, that's really important. So do your best to Engage and Develop Others.

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