In my experience as a leader, a board member and an advisor to leaders, I’ve learned that all great leaders are “servant leaders,” a term first used by Robert Greenleaf in his influential essay “The Servant as Leader.” Recently, I hosted several webcasts on the leadership and employee engagement channel at Brighttalk.com that have a link to the servant leadership theme.
Howard Behar, the inspiring and wise former president of Starbucks International, spoke with me about his experiences as a leader and his outstanding book entitled It’s Not About the Coffee. I loved this book. Howard is a fine example of a servant leader and, no surprise, he happens to be a member of the board of trustees of the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, whose CEO, Dr. Kent Keith, was my guest in another webcast. Kent wrote an insightful book that I recommend entitled, The Case for Servant Leadership. He is an extraordinary thinker and I’m certain you’ll enjoy his book and webcast presentation.
Another webcast I hosted was with Bill Shannon, the Chief Wisdom Officer of DaVita, Inc. DaVita is an remarkable organization that exhibits the values of servant leadership. It was recently named by Fortune magazine as #1 rated in the field of Health Care Medical Facilities for innovation, long-term investment and quality of products and services. Check out my webcast with Bill to learn why.
When leaders don’t mature into servant leaders, they inevitably become what I call lonely leaders. Whereas servant leaders thrive from challenging work and a sense of satisfaction in healthy relationships, lonely leaders become relationally and emotionally isolated. Feelings of emptiness and boredom creep into their lives and, as a means to cope with these feelings, they seek the temporary thrills that come from excessive risk-taking in business, illicit sexual relationships and/or substance abuse. In a webcast with Robert Curry, founder and president of Turning Point for Leaders, we explore how corporate executives become trapped in substance abuse behavior and what is necessary to liberate them. Robert tells his own powerful story about becoming a substance abuser and the journey that led him to become a leader in the field of substance abuse treatment for executives. Getting to know this good man and his personal story has been especially inspiring to me because I felt I was once on the road to becoming a lonely leader, something I wrote about in an essay that Amazon published as an Amazon Short entitled “Alone No Longer.” (You can read it for free here in a blog post I wrote about the surprising lessons I learned during my wife Katie’s successful battles with cancer.)
Finally, I just hosted a webcast interview with Polly Pearson, Vice President of Employee Brand and Strategy Engagement at EMC. She is a networking leader, the hub in a huge social network at EMC that helps people connect, increases employee engagement, energy and cooperation. Polly has been called the “Queen of Cool.” The title fits her well! She has a talent for identifying cool people at EMC who do cool things and raising awareness of them and their work throughout the company. She does this via her radio program, blogging and the web 2.0 enabled community she has nurtured. There are now 40 external bloggers at EMC and more than 160 communities of interest. I predict that in the years ahead more organizations will add roles like Polly’s as the benefits of greater employee engagement and an increase in knowledge flow that stimulates innovation, become apparent. Check out Polly’s blog here and the webcast I did with here.