#SH302: The 4 Ps of Service Leadership

Ask Yourself

How would those you lead define your leadership style? Outside of potentially labeling you as good or bad, would they say you excel in communication and relationships, would they say that you are autocratic or authoritative, maybe they would they say that you’re primarily interested in setting goals and meeting the organization’s established targets without regard for people? Ask yourself: do you serve others so that they can do the work, do you empower them, or do you take control and manage people closely? It’s important to know your style, your preferences, and your shortcomings.

Servant Leadership

At TheSchoolHouse302, a fundamental aspect of our leadership paradigm is servant leadership. As Greenleaf, the godfather of servant leadership, once said, “the servant leader is servant first…the natural feeling that one wants to serve [others]” (1977). We subscribe to it, work to model it, and it underpins all of our materials, resources, models, and presentations. But, we draw a unique distinction between servant leadership and service leadership.

Servant leadership is about empowering others, not using power over them. This style flips the-leader-at-the-top mentality upside-down so that serving others is at the heart of leading to fulfill the mission of the organization–enabling those who the leader serves to best fulfill their role and to maximize their potential. Although the phrase servant leader was coined in the 70s, leaders possessing this mentality and style can be found in any field throughout the centuries.

Service Leadership

But, we do make a major distinction between servant and service leadership. As we define it, service leadership differs from servant leadership in that service leaders are actually serving the needs of others by providing a service that would not otherwise be available. Service is then defined as helping or doing work for someone, or as one of the three U.S. Air Force’s core values states, “Service Before Self…An Airman’s professional duties take precedence over personal desires.” Service leaders are teachers, public servants, philanthropists, volunteers, and anyone who is in a position to fill a void for someone that they can’t otherwise fill for themselves. The best service leaders are by nature servant leaders, but not all servant leaders have to be providing a service as a public good.

Doing Both

Let’s take, for example, Scott Kammerer, who we interviewed for our #onethingseries leadership podcast. Listen here if you missed it. Scott is both a servant and a service leader. As an entrepreneur and a restaurant owner, he embraces the spirit and the attitude of a servant leader and uses his influence and opportunity to be a service leader as well. He’s the President of SoDel Concepts and the founder of SoDel Cares. So here’s how we draw our distinction. Not all restaurant owners are servant leaders. A restaurant owner could easily be an authoritative micromanager, who uses pressure without support, and even shaming to advance his goals. The opposite is the servant leader, clearly Kammerer’s philosophy, who leads people by identifying their strengths, lifting them to new heights, and empowering them to accomplish great things. In fact, Scott talks about getting out of the way so that people can exercise their greatest strengths, living by the vision of the company. That’s true servant leadership.

But, Scott doesn’t also have to be a service leader. He’s the founder of SoDel Cares, which is a charity organization that gives money to assist children, at risk youth and adults, and the elderly. Their mission is “to contribute in a positive way to the communities where we do business.” SoDel Cares is a service leadership project that makes Scott not only a servant leader but also a service leader.

Lastly, we imagine that someone could be a service leader but not a servant leader, although very unlikely. We doubt that too many dedicated service professionals have an authoritative approach, assisting with a need in the community but doing so in a dictatorial way. It’s possible, but not probable. In any event, we believe that leaders should “serve first” as Greenleaf put it, and in growing your service leadership mindset, we have four areas that need attention to be a true service leader in your organization.

TheSchoolHouse302 Four Ps of Service Leadership

With that said, this month we’re focused on service leadership, and our 4 Ps are a model to help your organization with a stronger service-oriented approach to leading better and growing faster.

#1 — People First.

Our philosophy is that we care about people first. ~Mark Zuckerberg

Angie Morgan, leadership expert and former officer in the United States Marine Corps, details in the book Spark an incredible story of where she was put first while in The Basic School, learning to be an Officer of Marines. Essentially, after the death of a loved one, her captain went above and beyond to ensure that every little detail was covered and taken care of for Angie, all prior to breaking the devastating news to her, which is custom for a captain to do. She explains that at that moment she learned “…to be a leader you can be tough, you can be aggressive, you can have demanding standards–but if you can’t be compassionate, empathetic, and caring, you’re never going to build a team of people who feel valued and connected.” Service-based leaders put their organization and their people ahead of themselves. They embrace the notion that to truly reach for and exact the vision of the company and live out the core beliefs, the people must feel valued and appreciated through the actions of the leader.

Challenge Question: How are you putting people’s needs above your own?

#2 — Clear Priorities.

The overwhelming reality is: we live in a world where almost everything is worthless and very few things are exceptionally valuable. ~ Greg McKeown

Ray Wang is the CEO of Constellation Research and the author of Disrupting Digital Business. He calls for companies to flip their thinking about priorities to include “strategic differentiation.” He tells HBR readers that priorities can “create game changing transformation” when we adopt social enterprises. Wang doesn’t say these “social enterprises” have to be service-oriented projects, but in a service-based leadership model, we believe that one of the differentiated priorities should be “giving.” Making contributions outside of your traditional priorities will improve the spirit of the organization and the passion that people have for doing the work. Simple examples include philanthropic endeavors to raise funds for charity. More sophisticated approaches are to organize a group for a Saturday soup kitchen volunteer experience or even giving people time off (trading work time) for volunteer efforts that are pre-determined by the organization. In any case, differentiating priorities to include something that is philanthropic and outside the traditional scope of work will instill a positive attitude and sense of pride that are also part of this model for service leadership and certainly “exceptionally valuable” to the lives of people.

Challenge Question: What is your organization doing to give back to the community?

#3 — Positive Attitude.

Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose. ~Lyndon B. Johnson

Having a positive attitude is a fundamental way to approach life to confirm that you are mentally available to “see” opportunities. As a leader, it is critical to move forward each day with a positive mentality. Please don’t mistake having a positive attitude for a pollyanna, blind-to-reality, view on life. As Tony Robbins says, you can’t stand in a garden and tell yourself, “no weeds, no weeds, no weeds” and expect that to prevent weeds from growing. Rather, our view of the power of positivity rests on the fact that much of our interpretation of our surroundings–the events we attend and the situations that arise in our lives–are a result of our perception. The key is being guided by positivity rather than negativity–the idea that each moment in life has the potential for greatness, not the opposite. This approach has two primary benefits: One, it requires you to be mindful of all the great things going on and not just the issues that often plague us. Two, it keeps in check how we should react to situations. As Dr. Dennis Waitley writes in The Psychology of Winning, “…it makes little difference what is actually happening, it’s how you, personally, take it that really counts” (1979). We realize that the daily grind makes this approach challenging. But as Viktor Frankl, Nazi camp survivor, reminds us: one of the last of all human freedoms is to choose one’s own attitude in any given set of circumstances (2006). The power is in the control we have over both our attitude and our effort.

Challenge Question: What steps can you take to be sure that you and others in your organization view experiences through a positive lens?

#4 — Beneficial Pride.

Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need. ~ Khalil Gibran

Sometimes pride is less than beneficial. In fact, it can tear us apart, create dissent, and lead to arrogance, anger, and narcissism. But, pride can be beneficial as well. Psychology professor David DeSteno says that “while researchers long thought that all emotions inhibit self-control because they tip the mind toward valuing immediate pleasure, newer research suggests that certain emotions, including pride, do just the opposite: they nudge the mind to be more patient and future-oriented than it would otherwise be” (2016). DeSteno’s research is not specific to service leadership, but it does show that when people are proud, in the same way that when people have gratitude and compassion, they tend to see value in what the future holds. This is an important aspect of service work because it means that instilling pride in people helps them to value the efforts they’re making for others toward a better future for all of us. To evoke pride in your team, DeSteno says, leaders need to give specific praise about a measurable task. When we praise people effectively, they feel the pride needed to continue the work, persisting longer than they would without the praise.

Challenge Question: Do your people feel proud about the work they’re doing and are they future-driven about the value they add to your community?

The Result 

Service leadership is the result of having a heart for and a desire to do for others what they might not otherwise be able to do for themselves. It creates a greater sense of community, and it works for the betterment of our society as a whole. The greatest service is the giving of oneself to realize a world that we believe in and that we work toward. Service leaders support, develop, and build people through The 4 Ps of Service Leadership. 

That’s our #SH302 model for Service Leadership. When you put people first, have clear priorities, work with a consistently positive attitude, and generate beneficial pride, you’re a service leader.  If you want stronger service or servant leaders in your organization, don’t hesitate to contact us, we can help.

Let us know what you think of this #SH302 post with a like, follow, or comment. Find us on Twitter, YouTube, iTunes, Facebook, & SoundCould. And if you want one simple model for leading better and growing faster per month, follow this blog by entering your email at the top right of the screen.

TheSchoolHouse302 is about getting to simple by maximizing effective research-based strategies that empower individuals to lead better and grow faster.

Joe & T.J.

Daschler, J. (1977). Service vs. servant: Attitude makes the difference. Golf Business.

DeSteno, D. (2016). The connection between pride and persistence. Harvard Business Review.

Frankl, V. E. (2006). Man’s search for meaning. Boston: Beacon Press.

Greenleaf, R. (1977). The servant as leader. Indianapolis, IN: Robert K. Greenleaf Center.

It’s our promise to protect. (n.d.). Retrieved March 01, 2018, from https://www.airforce.com/mission/vision

Morgan, A., Lynch, C., Lynch, S., & Smith, F. (2018). Spark: How to lead yourself and others to greater success. New York: First Mariner Books.

Morgan, A. & Lynch, C. (2017). How the U.S. Marines encourage service-based leadership. Harvard Business Review.

Waitley, D,. (1979). The psychology of winning: Ten qualities of a total winner. New York: The Penguin Group.

Wang, R. (2015). To jumpstart growth, flip the company’s priorities. Harvard Business Review.

10 thoughts on “#SH302: The 4 Ps of Service Leadership

Add yours

  1. This comes conceptually very close to the ethical/philosophical core of the Teachers Institute organizational model, which, as you know, has earned my greatest admiration. This is very well articulated, yet SO difficult to realize in the familiar hierarchical structures. It requires experience that validates the claims, AND genuine affection/respect/faith in people. I do admire the words!

    Like

  2. As a first time administrator I would say that I have taken on more of a servant leadership role. I like being able to help others and empower them at the same time. I have asked teachers what they want to see during upcoming professional development days and inservice days. I have asked the teachers I am supervising what their favorite instructional strategies are so that I can share them with others. I have intervened when teachers have come to me with a discipline issue regarding a student whose parent is not supportive.

    I feel like my best leadership trait so far has been: communication (my door is literally and figuratively always open). I always welcome teachers to come to my office to discuss the good, the bad, and anything else they deem important. I also return emails and phone calls ASAP.

    In regards to the 4 Ps: I have put people first…I make a priority (to-do) list every day. I stay positive despite how disgruntled a teacher may be. And…I feel very proud to be a part of this staff and feel like I AM making a difference. 🙂

    Like

    1. What an awesome feeling, Holly, to get the sense that you are making a difference in your daily role! It really makes going to work each day a pleasure!

      Like

    2. I love your approach and feel like we have that in common. Finding ways to support teachers in all they do is how I approach my day to day. One thing that was said in the very first class was “It’s your job to take care of teachers so teachers can take care of the students.” That made so much sense to me and really validated my approach for me. Keep doing what you do to make a difference every day!

      Like

  3. I found this article to be very interesting – and resonate so deeply with the goals I am setting for myself as a new administrator.

    Of the 4 Ps, the two that I found most salient were “People First” and “Positive Attitude.” I think it is hugely important, in my role, that I remember to value and work to bolster and strengthen my staff members as individuals and as professionals first. We all have strengths surrounding and approaches to achieving our shared goal of serving our students. My strengths and approaches may look very different than someone else’s. That said, mine are not better; they are different. I think it is always important to look for ways to support our teachers as professionals and offer our help in fostering growth.

    Secondly, having a positive attitude – both toward students and our staff – is critical. I want my school to be one that both students and staff are happy to come to each day. I want both students and staff to feel valued and validated when they see me. I can’t encourage those feelings without positivity and genuine interest. It is my goal, each day, to be a positive and supportive influence in the lives of all those with whom I come into contact with in my school building.

    In summation – I appreciate these 4Ps…so much so that the diagram has made it only my “wall of affirmation and reminders” in my office – directly in my line of sight each day!

    Like

  4. The 4 Ps of Service Leadership are a great framework or Mindset to follow as a new administrator. I feel blessed to be in a building where the staff is already very positive and passionate about their service. This environment makes it easy for me as a leader to want to serve my staff in the most beneficial way. To be a great leader in public education I feel it is almost essential to put people first, have clear priorities, and a display positive attitude. The pride as a leader and in my staff will come with the schools overall success and the type of environment we create as a school community.

    Like

  5. Good point about servant leadership. Empowering others is crucial in developing future leaders. As a leader, you must always look for ways to build capacity with your staff. This is where telling versus coaching comes into play when dealing with individuals or groups. I enjoyed reading about the 4 P’s and will do my best to incorporate them daily. Whether it is a parent, student, or teacher, putting people first is vital to sustaining a positive school climate.

    Like

  6. I agree with the first section of the blog (Ask Yourself). It’s very important to reflect on one’s practice to determine areas of growth regardless of profession. I like the term servant leadership. Empowering others leads to greater mission and vision buy-in and the development of future leaders. Scott Kammerer is a great example of one who embraces servant and service leadership. The mission of SoDel Cares checks all of the boxes we discussed at our first meeting. Simply put, all leaders must first learn to follow.
    People are the driving force of any organization. As I reflect on the challenge question from the People First section, I think about communication. Am I communicating clearly and consistently with my staff? Do I respond in a timely manner? Do I listen to the ideas and opinions of all stakeholders? The Clear Priorities section reminds me of the conversations we had during the first session related to mission and vision. All of the decisions we make are for the best of our students which in turn is the best for the community. We must continue to build partnerships with community members and groups. We should invite community members in to our school and attend community events as much as possible. Students should be partners in the events as well. Positivity is an important characteristic of an effective leader. Positivity is contagious and spreads to others when exhibited by leadership. We want all of our students and staff to have a positive attitude and growth mindset. At our school, we start all of our meetings (staff meetings, PLCs, clubs/organization) with positive information/news. It’s important that staff know they are appreciated and that their hard work and dedication is not going unnoticed. This relates to the Beneficial Pride section as well. If stakeholders are treated with respect and can see their results, they will feel proud of their work and continue to contribute to the community.

    Like

  7. I do my best to subscribe to the 4 P’s of leadership and am a firm believer of putting people first in our roles. We’re in the business of educating students, and they should be the people we put first in any decision we make. As many leaders do, I’ve worked hard to get to where I am today, and I did so by always putting kids first, not just the students in my building, but more often than not, my district. I’m a firm believer that we should be able to level the playing field by providing as many opportunities for our students across all our schools, and not limit it to one building. I have implemented several programs at my school and then used them as models across my districts to ensure that all students can enjoy them.

    The other P that I really believe in is to always be positive, and to spread that to others. We all have our days where stress keeps building up, and people are quick to be negative about them, but I do my best to be positive and to spread it to others. If the leader of a building is negative, regardless of the situation, it spreads like wildfire. Having a constant positive approach keeps everyone working towards solutions and doing what they can to make those situations into a learning situation. Thankfully, I have a core group of people that always help to keep me positive in my personal life and professional life (thanks Kathy!) and together we have a calm demeanor that spreads through our team regardless of the situation.

    The other point that resonated with me was the quote “to be a leader you can be tough, you can be aggressive, you can have demanding standards–but if you can’t be compassionate, empathetic, and caring, you’re never going to build a team of people who feel valued and connected.” It really defines who we are and can be as leaders. If we have high standards, but still are compassionate and able to show our teams that we’re human, and that we value them, it will go a long way. Far too often, we are given mandates and dictates calendars, framework and other programs that we as principals have little say in. Sometimes, as things happen, we need to put that aside and go back to putting people first, not policy. After all, there are only four P’s, not five.

    Like

  8. I definitely feel that in my role as a first year principal that I am more of a servant leader. This goes hand in hand with one of my Ps- positive. I see my role this year, as I get to know my staff and the climate of the school, as a cheerleader for the teacher- serving alongside in anyway possible, building them up and finding the positive in a job field that can be extremely challenging. I have always been a positive person, and try desperately to maintain this attitude, even when surrounded by less than positive individuals. Keeping our students at the focus helps me to maintain this perspective. My other P is definitely people first. Being compassionate and empathetic to build trust and a sense of family is a high priority to me- both with my staff and my students.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: