by   Jim Hinshaw

Simon Sinek has said that Leadership is not about being in charge, but it is all about taking care of those in your charge.  He is referring to Servant Leadership, a concept we embody at Service Nation.

Our President, Tom Peregrino defines Servant Leadership for us, he takes it to a new level.  When he comes in it takes him 20 minutes to walk back the 200 feet to his office, he stops and talks to anyone who is at their desk that morning.  At the end of the week, he uses our internal communication app to request: Tell Me Something Good.  And we do.  The great thing is something good can be anything.  Maybe your son won a pinewood derby race at school, another shared the joy she had with her toddler at a Tulip farm.  Some share a business success, or losing weight, or reaching a goal of working out for 30 days straight.   It just needs to be “something good”

My good friend Justin Deese recently sold his well-run HVAC and plumbing business and has launched his podcast: Freedom Blueprint.  I just listened to episode 23, the Essence of Leadership Through Serving and Caring.   I pick it up on Facebook, search for Justin Deese, or Freedom Blueprint, it will come up and you have several episodes to look at.  For a closer look at Justin, he and his lovely wife Kristen will be at our Reno Summit, which may have already passed for some of you reading this.  Another great reason to listen to his podcast.  Here is what I heard on this episode.

First, Justin said he was young when he got involved in his first business.  Like 21.  He thought that being a leader was simple, he had played sports in the school years and the coaches were leaders.  He soon realized that it is not possible to be a leader in today’s business climate using the concepts the coaches used years ago.  You will get a letter from HR for yelling and screaming at the employees, and if you are using punishment, it will not be effective at changing behavior.

Side bar: my wife and I had a beautiful Doberman back when we lived in Colorado.  We hired a woman to help us train the dog, since he a 100 pounds and had a 3- foot vertical jump.  She told us her package, it was so much per hour, several hour minimum, 1 hour sessions.  I told her I googled it, the dog can only pay attention for a fraction of that time.  She said, the first 20 min is for the dog, the remainder is for us.  She was clear, punishment will not work to motivate that sort of dog, rewards will help them learn what actions we want to see.  Still true today, employees will not respond to threats, scolding or chastisement, rather catch them doing something good and thank them, they will repeat.

Simon also said that we do not need a title to be a leader, they can appear from within our team with the right environment.    An additional benefit of being a servant leader is that the team knows you have their back.  If a dispatcher is having a bad day and a difficult customer uses improper language, that dispatcher needs to know they don’t have to take the verbal abuse which has shown it’s ugly face in the last few years.  They can put them on hold, turn the call over and let the servant leader handle the opportunity.   When you realize the employees are truly your best asset, and treat them with respect, protect them from situations that were out of their control, you will be amazed how well they do the job they are supposed to do.  You can hold them accountable, and get great results as well.

When you have a culture of empowerment, where the team is able to make a decision and they don’t feel isolated, they are happier.  And happy employees mean happy customers.  Happy employees also stay longer, attend training to get better at their job or prepare for the next one, and they share the fact they are working for a great company with others.   Lowers your cost of labor when you are constantly having to train new employees.

So here are Justin’s 5 pillars of Servant Leadership:

  1. Foster a culture of support and empowerment
  2. Enhance team morale and cohesion.
  3. Improve customer satisfaction through employee satisfaction
  4. Build strong company reputation
  5. Driving long term success through employee retention.

These are the elements of a Servant Leader serving those who they lead.  Thanks for listening, we’ll talk later.