Leadership: Leading by Example

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Leading by example

“Good leaders must first become good servants.” -Robert Greenleaf

The reason why the notion of a “natural born leader” is so offensive to many leaders is that it is often used as an excuse.  Rather than using leaders as role models too many people will say that the leader has some sort of intrinsic ability that they could never develop themselves.  It is rooted in a defeatist attitude.  Leaders possess qualities that inspire others, but generally are not born with the qualities.  They develop them over time and more importantly these qualities become part of their character.

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The Keys To Leadership

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They build statues for leaders, not managers

Several times on this blog I have referred to the fact that you cannot manage servers.  This is always followed up by the idea that you have to lead them instead.  Managing servers is very much like trying to herd cats.  I think this is a fairly easy concept to grasp.  The difficulty in putting this idea into action is differentiating between being a manager and a leader.

Being a manager makes you responsible, but it does not make you a leader.  Leadership requires a separate set of skills.  If you choose to be a manager instead of a leader, someone will step up to fill that leadership role.  The problem is that they may lead their followers in a direction that makes your goals more difficult to achieve.  Nearly every goal a manager can have is made easier with the support of their staff.  Developing the qualities of a leader is the easiest way to get your staff to follow you and help achieve your goals.

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What Motivates Servers: Purpose

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(Note: This is the final part of a six part series dealing with what does and does not motivate servers.  It is based upon research presented in the first part.  If you have not read the initial post entitled “The Epiphany”, I highly recommend you do so to fully understand the series.  Later parts dealt with how money fails and succeeds to motivate servers.  The most recent posts dealt with autonomy and mastery as motivators.  This post is best put into perspective after reading those posts.)

“The sense of paralysis proceeds not so much out of the mammoth size of the problem but out of the puniness of the purpose.”

-Norman Cousins

I have been writing this series for six days straight now.  With each part I write I become more convinced of the validity of the original research the series was built upon.  Every day I see specific examples of how autonomy or mastery inspires people.  Each one of those days I have also had misgivings about writing this post.  The concept of purpose is so immense and so powerful that summing it up in a thousand words of less seems a bit overwhelming.  I have outlined and re-outlined this post numerous times.  To conclude this series I will show how managers can create a sense of purpose for their staffs.

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Sergeants and Generals

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For those of you who do not know me personally, I have a confession to make.  I am a huge history nerd.  This means that The History Channel’s “America: The History of Us” is taking up a large portion on my DVR.  I was watching the episode on World War II the other day when a particular statement from a General caught my attention.  He talked about the reasons soldiers fight.  He said that beyond all other reasons soldiers almost universally fight for the guy in the foxhole with them.

As a server, I can relate to this.  When the entire restaurant goes down in the weeds, you don’t fight through it for the sake of corporation or their shareholders.  You fight through it for your coworkers. You fight through it for those people who are fighting with you.  After the fight it is a bond you share.  There are many former coworkers out there I don’t particularly like as people, but will always respect because of the battles we went through together.  I would lend them a hand when they need it, because I know I could count on them when I need it.

To take the military analogy further, there are two types of managers: Generals and Sergeants.  Generals send you into battle.  Sergeants lead you into battle.  You fight for Sergeants and you curse Generals under your breath the whole time.  Managers who fight with you and for you as Sergeants make you want to fight with and for them.  Managers who command as Generals will find a staff unconcerned with helping them win their battles.

It all comes down to one very simple principle:

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