Serve to Be Great: Leadership Lessons from a Prison, a Monastery, and a Boardroom
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11 Leadership Lessons from a Prison, a Monastery, and a Boardroom
A recent Gallup poll shows that only 30 percent of Americans are actively engaged at work. And honestly, that doesn’t come as a big surprise. From dull, unfulfilling tasks to job-related stress to long hours to grueling commutes to unsatisfactory paychecks, there are many (many!) reasons why people might not enjoy their work. And, of course, there’s the number one reason of all: “I hate my boss!”
If you’re tempted to write that off with a “Get over it; everyone hates their boss,” think again. We’re not talking about a standard “stick it to the man” attitude. According to Gallup’s chairman and CEO, fully 20 percent of American employees are actively disengaged because they have “bosses from hell that make them miserable.” In turn, these employees “roam the halls spreading discontent.” Yikes, right?
But wait—there’s good news. According to author Matt Tenney, managers can turn this depressing situation around and create the ultimate win-win. By developing both the aspiration and the ability to more effectively serve and care for the people on their teams, managers can become leaders people actually want to follow. (Really!)
“When the focus is on serving team members, leaders can create a team culture that people want to be a part of, that produces superior results, and that has a positive impact on society as a whole,” says Tenney, author of Serve to Be Great: Leadership Lessons from a Prison, a Monastery, and a Boardroom (Wiley, May 2014, ISBN: 978-1-118-86846-1, $25.00, www.matttenney.com). “When this happens, leaders win too, because they get promoted faster and create the conditions for sustainable, long-term success. Perhaps more important, they actually enjoy going to work each day, and the people on their teams do, too.”
Tenney’s extraordinary past provides him with a unique perspective on the power of serving and caring for team members. In Serve to Be Great, Tenney tells the compelling story of how his attempt to embezzle government funds led to five and a half years in military prison. During his sentence, Tenney’s perspective shifted from selfish to servant, prompting him to live and train as a monk for three years, and finally, to become a social entrepreneur. Tenney has cofounded and led two non-profits, as well as a speaking and training company devoted to helping leaders achieve greater long-term success while also making our world a better place.
In addition to telling Tenney’s story, Serve to Be Great also includes an abundance of case studies, research, and tactics to help leaders make the shift to servant leadership.
“Servant leadership doesn’t mean that we assume some menial, meek persona; it simply means that our motivation for leading people is to be of service to others,” Tenney explains. “I believe that somewhere inside each of us is the aspiration to devote ourselves to serving others. That said, it can be challenging to effectively serve the people on our teams, even if we want to. When we’re under stress—like the pressure to hit a goal or ‘make the numbers’—we tend to focus more on the short-term and can often sacrifice the relationships that are a foundation of long-term success. With training, you effectively serve team members even when the conditions are challenging.”
Here, Tenney shares 11 tactics to help leaders achieve higher levels of success by consistently serving and inspiring greatness in others.
“Being successful as a leader and living a meaningful, enjoyable life are not mutually exclusive,” concludes Tenney. “In fact, the two actually fuel each other. The very things that make life truly rich are the same things that create and sustain long-term success in both business and in life.
“The best news is that it’s all highly trainable,” he adds. “Any one of us can become an extraordinary, highly effective leader who enjoys going to work each day because we know that we’re making our world a better place.”