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Servant Leadership and Compassionate Collaboration (Pillar IV)

NOTE: Last month, we discussed four of the servant leadership pillars as discussed in the book, Seven Pillars of Servant Leadership by James Sipe and Don Frick. As April springs upon us, we will look at the remaining three pillars (remember I started with Pillar VI, Systems Thinker first) to conclude our discussion of the book and the class I am taking Key Practices to Servant Leadership 2.0. I hope that you have been enjoying the blogs! Look forward to more exciting topics on servant leadership in the months to come!

None of us is perfect by ourselves….

~Robert Greenleaf

A Servant-Leader builds relationships, embraces diversity and is the creator of a culture of collaboration. Pillar IV is the Servant Leader as Compassionate Collaborator. A Servant-Leader who compassionately collaborates;

  • Invites and rewards the contribution of others.
  • Is always mindful and aware of the quality of work-life balance and continually builds caring, supportive, and collaborative teams and communities.
  • Develops a positive rapport with diverse people, acknowledge cultural difference, and values a variety of backgrounds.
  • Neutralizes disagreements respectfully, diplomatically, and constructively.

Three core competencies of a Servant-Leader who is a compassionate collaborator;

  • Expresses Appreciation
  • Builds Teams and Communities
  • Negotiates Conflict
  • Together
  • Everyone
  • Achieves
  • More

Servant-Leaders develop a culture of collaboration. This type of culture takes time to build, but a Servant Leader knows it is the way to harmony (as it is seen in Japanese cultures) and the success of an organization or project. A collaborative culture includes:

  • Trust and respect in everyday situations,
  • Equalitarian attitudes among members at all ranks,
  • Power based on expertise and accountability,
  • Shared leadership where all members take initiative,
  • Commitment to the success of other members, rather than just one’s own success,
  • Valuing the truth and truth-telling,
  • Commitment to continuous improvement of the whole organization,
  • Active learning, and
  • Personal responsibility.

Building a culture of collaboration is worth the work. As a Servant-Leader strives to reach consensus about doing the right thing, one comes to understand quickly, that the right thing may be different for the customer, the manager, or the boss. To  engage in consensus decision-making, a Servant-Leader understands that while everyone may not agree with the ultimate decision, that everyone is going to support the decision and not undermine it. At the end of the day, the Servant-Leader who has engaged in compassionate collaboration is one that when everyone who leaves the room claiming “we” made the decision and not just the leader.
One of the three competencies of a compassionate collaboration is expressing appreciation. Five tips that Servant-Leaders engage when praising people include:
Praise with a Purpose
Understand the difference between a compliment and praise that reinforces positive performance. For example, telling Jane you like her new glasses is a compliment.Telling Jane you appreciate her contribution to helping the organization stay organized and on time is effective praise.
Be Specific
“Good job, Way to Go!” is a good way to show appreciation but what’s even better is saying, “What an impressive procedure you developed for handling customer service conflicts on the telephone.” Be brief and precise.
Consider the Receiver
It helps to be aware generation-sensitive language (You wouldn’t want to say “good job dude” to a person that is seen as an elder) and to be aware of personalities and feelings of the receiver of your recognition. John might prefer a quiet hallway conversation while Sally might appreciate a banner or balloons. Know your people!
Be Sincere
Be authentic, heartfelt, and proportionate. People can sense phoniness and brown-nosing a mile away.
Do It Often
Celebrate small successes – frequently, consistently, and conscientiously. It is good business, and it is one way a Servant-Leader acts on her commitment to the growth of others.
Crislip and Larson, in their book, Collaborative Leadership put it this way;
“The purpose of collaboration is to create a shared vision and joint strategies to address concerns that go beyond the purview of any particular party.”
Servant Leaders understand that the growth of self and others is interrelated with compassionate collaboration. Without it, failure is inevitable.
To Collaborating,
Dr. Crystal
P.S.: The chapter on compassionate collaborator is a huge chapter. Expect more on the subject of a Servant-Leader as a compassionate collaborator in future blogs.
Crystal J. Davis is a servant leader, blogger, and researcher. She holds a Doctorate in Management specializing in Organizational Leadership. Dr. Davis is passionately engaged in Servant Leadership and selfless service to the nonprofit and public sectors having served both large and small organizations throughout her career and consulting business. Follow Crystal @DrDavis2126 (Twitter) and, Lead.From.Within. (Facebook).
© Copyright 2015 ~Dr. Crystal J. Davis. All Rights Reserved.

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