Thursday, July 22, 2021

Servant Leadership

This week our company welcomed a new Operations Manager to the fold.  JB has an extensive military and manufacturing background, which should fit very well as we continue forward. 

As with any new person, I was mostly open-minded while slightly apprehensive.  Fortunately he seems like a good guy with a willingness to learn what we are all about.  As we were having an early conversation, I was talking about how I would be cooking on the grill for our employees the following week.  He liked the idea and put it into a term that I hadn't used before, "servant leadership".

Today we had an ice cream truck come and serve Italian ice, ice cream, and gelatos.  While the employees were being served, I greeted each one and thanked them for working hard and working safely.  I took the opportunity to talk with employees that I scarcely know, and joke with those I do.  With each handshake and fist bump it helped to relieve the stresses we have endured during and after the pandemic.

While chatting with the employees I couldn't help but think about that term over and over again.  Servant leadership.  Nothing that I do is more important in my job than serving the others that work there.  I am there if they have concerns, or need an injury tended to, or need advice.  

Lately we have experienced difficulties with Tyler's living situation.  There were times where emotions were easily able to take over and make decision-making more challenging.  It would have been easy to allow anger and frustration speak for me, but I needed to think about what was best for Tyler.  I needed to be a servant leader to him.  What is best for him?  How do I improve his situation in the short and long term?  What would HE want me to do?  As it turns out (in a story to be told later), Tyler has been able to begin recovering from the difficulties because this approach was taken.

The last few days I ran into an old friend DC who was doing some work in our place.  DC is used often in his line of work because we know he does an honest job, and is very good to work with.  He returns calls, deals with customers politely, and puts pride into what he does.  We had a nice conversation catching up, which was a stark reminder that we all deal with sets of challenges that most people never see below the surface.  And yet, he is treats people right.  He is a gentleman and a professional in every sense of the word.  He obviously understands servant leadership.

Another work friend I have is SR.  She is an executive assistant who takes care of the people around her.  I am not an executive, but she doesn't care.  If I need her help I know she is there for me.  But even more importantly, she is always there to encourage, appreciate, and comfort me whenever I need it.  Its not unusual for her to send me a short e-mail telling me how much she appreciates the job I do.  And it always seems to come at just the right time.

All of these people and my conversation with JB reminded me how important servant leadership is.  It puts the other person first.  It builds the other person and makes them better.  It lifts our world just a little bit.

We need to remember as we serve our special needs loved ones, families, friends, and strangers, that to be leaders we should reserve ourselves to be servant leaders.  We should teach others how to practice servant leadership.  It will truly help this world to be a better plaee.

Be well and God bless.    Tom