“All of us, whether or not we are warriors, have a cubic centimeter of chance that pops out in front of our eyes from time to time. The difference between the average man and a warrior is that the warrior is aware of this, and one of his tasks is to be alert, deliberately waiting so that when his cubic centimeter pops out he has the necessary speed, the prowess, to pick it up.” ~ Carlos Cataneda
Servant-Leadership Characteristics in Organizational Life by Don DeGraaf, Colin Tilley, and Larry Neal represents chapter eight of the book we are using as a guide, Practicing Servant-Leadership: Succeeding Through Trust, Bravery, and Forgiveness by Larry C. Spears and Michelle Lawrence.
These authors provided an overview of the ten (10) core competencies of Servant-Leadership (Larry Spears created), but in this context, they used them in tandem with organizational life. I wrote about the ten core competencies a while back (here). Rather than go back through them, I would like to touch on the core competencies that resonated with me today, and with another book, I am reading right now, Synchronicity: The Inner Path to Leadership by Joseph Jaworski. That core competency is awareness. But before I do, we should understand why awareness is so critical. Warren Bennis, Tom Cronin, and Harlan Cleveland suggested eight propositions for American leaders as to what blocks our ability to embrace awareness more fully:
- The trouble with American leaders is their lack of self-knowledge.
- The trouble with American leaders is their lack of appreciation for the nature of leadership itself.
- The trouble with American leaders is their focus on concepts that separate (communities, nations, disciplines, fields, methods, etc.), rather than concepts that express our interconnectedness.
- The trouble with American leaders is their ignorance of the world and of the U.S. interdependence – their lack of world-mindedness.
- The trouble with American leaders is their inattention to values – forgetting to ask “Why?” and “What for?”
- The trouble with American leaders is that they do not know how to make changes, to analyze “social architecture” [Warren Bennis’s term], and to create a team to make something different happen.
- The trouble with American leaders is an insufficient appreciation of the relevance of stakeholders; of the implications of pluralism; and of the fact that nobody is in charge, and therefore each leader is partly in charge of the situation as a whole.
- The trouble with American leaders is that they are not sufficiently aware of the context, or the external environment, or whatever it is they are responsible for doing.
Wow. These guys really pulled us on the carpet and told us about ourselves. I have seen and continue to learn myself as a Servant-Leader concerning the criticisms listed above.
Servant-Leaders understand that the core competency, awareness, is most critical to the development of the inner life of a Servant-Leader and the impact it has on organizational life. That cliché, “Some men go through a forest and see no firewood,” is so true in the ever-changing life of an unaware organization. That lack of awareness is dangerous to the 21st-century organization.
The need for managers to be critically aware of their customers, their staff, and their organization is well researched. But, as Servant-Leaders know, that additional step is to develop self-awareness. Self-awareness is about realizing life while living it, in every moment. As Jaworski says in his book, “it is a fundamental shift of mind.”
And the shift is a challenge. Heck, we are ALL so busy. It’s easier to live superficially than to live deeply. With all the programs we have to develop, people to see, places to go, and things to do, it’s a no wonder we can’t get off of the hamster wheel for a moment of self-reflection!
As a part of awareness, self-reflection allows us to renew the passion that attracted us to our organizations in the first place. It’s necessary to get that “fire back in our belly” so that we can access, reflect, and be honest with ourselves if we want to sustain our passion in the workplace and our personal lives.
I know that I am speaking to the choir right now. As Servant-Leaders we know all of this stuff. But, it is our responsibility to help others. To help other organizations. To help other Boards of Directors. And boy, do I have the perfect opportunity in front of me.
Have you ever been to a meeting where the energy is dead? I mean you can hear the crickets chirping and feel the lack of passion. This group that I am a new member of should engage in self-reflection, and be honest about where they are. Otherwise, I am afraid of what their destiny will be. What our destiny will be. They have long lost their passion and the way forward.
I leave with you a passage on the passion that the authors spoke about and know that if this group (and others) can get the passion back, they can survive and thrive as market leaders.
“When servant-leaders can demonstrate their passion for many of the core values of their organization, they reaffirm their organization’s commitment to the growth of the people and to building social capital within their communities. As a result, we must continue to develop our “inner fire within ourselves,” which allows us to continue to deliver programs and services at a high level over the long term, as well as encouraging a passion for services within our staff to meet the needs of the customers.”
To Re-Igniting the Fire Within,