Category Archives: Servant leadership

SERVANT LEADERSHIP

Starbucks’ President Reveals 6 Leadership Traits That Led to His Success

Howard Behar is former president of Starbucks Coffee Company International and the author of It’s Not About The Coffee and The Magic Cup. During his tenure, he helped grow the company from 28 stores to over 15,000 stores spanning five continents. He retired in 2007. He now dedicates a large part of his time to the development and education of future leaders and has been a longtime advocate of Servant Leadership. Writing for Inc, Marcel Schwantes, Principal and founder, Leadership From the Core, takes a look at an interview; with Bill Fox, co-founder of Container13 and editor of Forward-Thinking Workplaces™, Behar talks about the virtuous behaviors and mindset that guided him throughout his successful 21-year tenure manning the ship at Starbucks.

Six key (and often rare) principles for better leadership and a better life clearly stood out for me in this compelling interview.

1. Give your people room to make mistakes.

Behar was asked by Fox how more companies are able to create workplaces where employees’ voices matter and people thrive. He says, “The person who sweeps the floor chooses the broom.”

Behar is talking about giving a person in a specific role or function full authority, responsibility, and accountability to do their work. “You’ve got to give them room to make mistakes and to grow primarily as people first, and then as employees,” says Behar.

2. Remove fear with trust.

The freedom for employees to make mistakes can only occur with a strong foundation of trust in place. That’s where “people can begin to use their creativity because they lose that fear of being judged. They lose the fear of making mistakes,” says Behar.

In trustworthy settings, you’ll naturally find that people genuinely care about and encourage one another. But it starts with leaders setting the stage — giving their people responsibility and accountability to let them “choose their broom,” says Behar.

3. Serve one another.

“You know it’s not really employees and customers. That’s a word we all use to describe with [whom] we work and do business,” says Behar.

At the end of the day, what we’re really put on earth to do is serve another human being. Behar states, “It doesn’t make any difference what your job description is or what your title is; we’re all servers of human beings.”

4. Set expectations and get agreement.

When asked about what it takes to get an employee’s best performance, Behar believes that open and honest communication–lots of it–is critical for success. But it’s not just communicating. It’s setting clear expectations and getting agreement on those expectations that gets the employee’s full attention. It’s a feeling people get when they are trusted with responsibility and accountability.

Behar uses the example of family dynamics: “What allows your kids to give you their attention? It’s when they feel trusted and not judged,” says Behar. “When that happens, they open up to communication that gets closed down when they’re not. When you’re constantly after them, when you’re always setting rules and regulations then what happens? They close down” says Behar.

Behar says the same is true with workplace dynamics. Set clear expectations, gain agreement on those expectations, and “let them go for it.”

5. Treat people more like human beings, less like mere employees.

Behar was asked what people really lack and long for at work. He says, “Being treated with respect and dignity. Being dealt with as a human being and not an employee.”

In workplaces where people model and share common values like respect and dignity, there’s acceptance of one another: “People are allowed to be themselves at work, whatever that is — within the context of achieving the goals of the organization,” says Behar.

Leaders who respect and treat people with dignity also support their development as human beings. When Fox asked Behar what is the most important question a leader should be asking an employee, Behar replied, “What can I do to support you in the attainment of your own goals in the context of obtaining our family or our organization’s goals?”

6. Discover the truth of who you are.

Reflecting back on his professional journey, Behar shared a story of his own compelling self-discovery. At 26, he really didn’t know whom he was, what his values were, what he stood for, or what he wanted to accomplish in life.

Working at a furniture company at the time, his boss asked, “Howard, what do you love more — people or furniture?”

That hit him like a Mike Tyson punch to the gut. Being that he wanted to be the best in the home furnishings industry, for the first time Behar was confused about his true purpose in life.

He says, “Once I asked myself that question, it began a process of self-discovery. Trying to figure out, ‘Howard, who are you?’ ‘Do you love furniture?’”

He concluded that it wasn’t furniture that he loved, but people — working with people, being with people, and learning from people.

And most importantly, he says, “learning to manage me.”

As a servant-leader, the question of “who am I?” has been a lifelong journey of self-discovery for Behar. He says that he is still figuring out his mission and how he’s going to live his life.

“It’s constantly in my head. I’m always trying to deal with, ‘Who am I?’” says Behar.

Read the full interview.

read more at inc.com

Christian Faith Plus Chinese Productivity

At first glance, it looks as though it could be any other factory driving the rapid development of the Chinese economy. But this is no ordinary enterprise because here religious faith is as important as profit.

In fact, the owner of the Boteli Valve Group in Wenzhou would like to see all his staff convert to Christianity.

And such a factory is not a one-off: it is part of a growing number of businesses run by Christian entrepreneurs in one of China’s key enterprise zones, whose success is now being studied by the Chinese government.

As he shows me the production facilities, the factory’s general manager, Weng-Jen Wau, tells me that every month, $5m (£3m) worth of industrial valves are manufactured.

About 40% of the factory’s output is exported to businesses worldwide.

But he seems to have limited interest in the sales figures – he is far more concerned to tell me about the place his family’s Christian faith has in the life of the factory.

‘Better workers’

Every Monday morning, the senior managers gather together and pray about the business.

Once a week, members of staff are encouraged to attend an on-site Christian fellowship meeting, where they read the Bible and pray for each other.

Weng-Jen Wau believes that by encouraging increasing numbers of his staff to convert to Christianity, his business will prosper.

And he tells me that when staff do convert to Christianity, their attitude towards their work is transformed.

“If you’re a Christian you’re more honest, with a better heart,” he says. “The people who aren’t Christians aren’t responsible. I think it’s very different.

“I’m not saying those people who aren’t Christians are all bad, but from the percentage of the workers who are Christians, they seem to be more responsible.

“Also when they do things wrong, they feel guilty – that’s the difference,” he explains.

One of the workers I met who had recently converted to Christianity explained that he had known nothing about the religion before he started work at the factory.

BBC map

But he said that his new-found faith was now a source of daily inspiration.

He told me that he was now trying to convert his friends and colleagues to Christianity.

“If everybody became a Christian, it would have a very big impact, and would really help the development of our factory,” he said.

Work ethic

So I asked Mr Wau how much religion was a factor when he was recruiting new staff.

“Of course I would choose the Christians first, definitely,” he said.

Such comments could prompt accusations of discriminatory practice in some countries, but he had no doubt about the sort of impact Christianity could have on Chinese business.

“I think if all enterprises absorb this Christian culture, we will have a much more harmonious society,” he said.

There are obvious questions about whether the staff really have discovered Christianity, or whether they are simply responding pragmatically to a clearly defined vision for their company.

Those I met were keen to stress the significance of their new faith, and the lack of pressure to convert – though there was no disguising their bosses’ clear desire to boost Christian numbers in the workforce.

But the wider role of Christian entrepreneurs in the economic success of the Wenzhou private enterprise zone has not gone unnoticed by the Chinese government.

Far from being regarded as a religious oddity, the impact of Christian-run businesses is now being studied by Chinese government officials.

At the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, I met Professor Zhuo Xinping, Director of the Institute of World Religions.

He specialises in the study of Christianity’s growing influence in China – and has plenty to say about Wenzhou’s Christian entrepreneurs.

He tells me that the city was visited by substantial numbers of Western Christian missionaries during the 19th Century and thus has – by Chinese standards – a long history of Christian faith.

Today it has an unusually high number of Christians for a Chinese city – with some estimates suggesting Christians now make up 20% of the population.

But what really interests him is the way in which the growth of Christianity and economic prosperity have happened side by side.

The Boteli Valve Group in Wenzhou, China
Image captionThe factory has a monthly output worth $5m

He tells me that Chinese researchers are considering whether in Western history there is a link between economic prosperity and Protestant Christianity – and they are questioning what that might mean for today’s China.

“It’s very important to find the secret of social development, the so-called potential forces for a nation,” he says.

“When it comes to Western countries, the majority Chinese understanding is that this potential force is Protestant Christianity.”

Christian faith may sound like an unlikely component in China’s future economic success.

But the notion that newfound faith can inspire a workforce to increased levels of productivity is being taken seriously not only by Christian businessmen, but by China’s Communist – and officially atheist – leaders

What Would the World Be Like if We All Loved Our Jobs?

When you wake up in the morning, are you filled with excitement about the prospect of a new day at work, or do you dread the thought of having to make it through yet another day of drudgery? A great question which we will often answer in the negative! But what would it be like in the positive? Asked and answered by one of Inc’s finest, author and futurist Jacob Morgan @JacobM.

What Would the World Be Like if We All Loved Our Jobs?

If you’re like much of the population, you fall into the latter category and disdain going to work. Surveys have found that only 13% of people around the world actually like going to work–an astoundingly low number.

Low employee engagement can lead to a number of problems, including low office morale, physical ailments, and emotional disorders. Employees who don’t like their jobs, especially when they work together, tend to feed off each other, which can cause distress in many other areas of an employee’s life and lead to more sickness and familial problems.

What would the world be like if we all loved our jobs? Think of the power of that question. To start, the emotional and physical problems from having to spend hours a day in an unsupportive environment would go away or be mitigated. People would likely be much happier and spread that happiness to their personal lives. Think of the potential of what problems society could work together to overcome. With a world of engaged employees who are excited about what they are doing, we could solve some of the world’s biggest problems and bring people together in new ways.

There are a number of reasons people dread going to work: it could be that the work itself isn’t challenging or engaging, the management is difficult to work with, the pay and benefits are lower than the employee would want, co-workers are difficult, the culture isn’t a good match, and many other reasons. And while we may not be able to create a world where every single person loves his or her job, each company can work towards creating that environment in their own office. Imagine what could happen with a full team of engaged and passionate employees–goals and success would likely be higher than ever. Every person deserves to work for an organization that they feel deserves their time and attention to be there.

In order to create this ideal environment, management needs to be on the same page with employees. The right to love your job doesn’t arrive once you hit a certain level or get a promotion–employees at all levels should be excited to come to work. Start a dialogue with honest conversations about what employees like and dislike about their work environment. For some organizations, this happens through town hall meetings or performance reviews, while others use anonymous surveys. Those results can point leadership in the starting direction. If a majority of employees feel unengaged because of the physical office space, management knows that one of its first steps should be reevaluating the office and perhaps creating something that better meets the needs of employees.

Creating an engaged environment isn’t a one-time thing, however. The best companies keep the conversation going and involve employees in the entire process. Constantly asking employees about their ideas for the future and their thoughts on the progress of the company gives leaders at all levels a metric of how their efforts are playing out. Being flexible and listening to employee feedback creates a cohesive environment where people are happy, engaged, and productive.

Everyone around the world deserves to wake up excited to go to work, but unfortunately that doesn’t always happen. While we can’t control what is happening other places, we can focus on what we can control: our own attitudes and the environment in our organization. By putting a bigger emphasis on employee happiness and engagement, organisations can reach new levels of productivity and success.

SERVANT LEADERSHIP

Servants, Not Kings

insanely-successful-leaders
Entrepreneur, Josh Linkner wrote a column for Forbes under the title: “Great Startup CEO’s Are Servants, Not Kings.” Over the course of his investing career, he said the duds in his portfolios had been led by grandiose personalities who talked big and acted like kings. The companies that performed best, he said, were led by servants—men and women who kept their heads down, their hands to the work, and who laboured for the best interests of their employers and investors.1

Servant leadership originated with Christ. While ministering on earth He provided a clear example of how to treat others. He came to serve rather than to be served.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.
Mark 10:45

It’s the little things—returning the shopping cart to its rack, smiling at the clerk behind the counter, picking up the phone to discuss a disagreement rather than sending an email, emptying the dishwasher, letting the other person have the last word, suppressing an exclamation of complaint—that make a difference.

Start filling your day with servant actions, and you’ll fill your life with blessings.

Being teachable and open to new ideas, with a bright outlook toward the future, will make you a servant leader.
Josh Linkner