7 Characteristics of Servant Leaders

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Servant Leadership might be one of the buzziest buzz words out there. Listen to any speaker on the topic, read any book or article about positive leaders and they all relate to the idea that a great leader does not strike fear in their followers but rather inspires them. What few if any sources provide, however, is any sort of guidelines for developing into a Servant Leader or characteristics to look for in a servant leader. This is long overdue, but I was inspired a few months back by a speaker from the Greenleaf Center who provided such an outline for servant leadership. Using his list and a few ideas of my own, I came up with the following.

Self-Awareness

This one might be the most confusing of the list so let’s get it out of the way early. While much of servant leadership is focused on the followers not the leader, it is simply impossible to lead– in any fashion– without understanding yourself and for what it is you stand. Having this knowledge gives you a sense of purpose and shows confidence to those you wish to inspire. Your followers can then rally behind your values and take them as their own to create the cohesive team you are working toward.

Listening

If you didn’t think this was going to be on here you probably have never read or even heard of servant leadership. A great leader always listens to the team they have around them and thrives on feedback from outer counsel. Listening creates trust and respect but also improves the unit. Ideas start flowing. Conversations elaborate.  Next thing you know, you have accomplished something great. Two ears, one mouth–you get the picture. Of course, this does not mean that you should not do any talking. Asking questions is the best way to illicit opinions from your team.

Changing the Pyramid

Countless incredible organizations were born and subsequently thrived with a few strong leaders at the top barking orders and strategy down through the corporate hierarchy. Looking to the future, however, organizations must change their focus from top down to bottom up. Focusing on those that you as a leader serve creates the best environment for everyone and inspires the best work from the team.

Develop Your Colleagues

You as a leader of an organization cannot grow said organization unless your team grows in either size or ability. Allow those you serve to become masters of their craft in any way that you know how. It will only benefit you when they grow. Who knows, maybe you will learn a few things along the way as well.

Coaching not Controlling

Never. Never. Never micromanage your team. Did I mention never? This is the fastest way to kill a collaborative and healthy environment. By coaching and providing those you serve with the tools they need to grow and develop, they will deliver the best results for you and the organization.

Unleash the Talent/Potential of Others

Along with coaching over controlling, comes inspiring others to reach their true potential. Have your team set goals for themselves, the company, the team, and even for you. This will give them a stake in what is going on with the organization and hold everyone accountable for the success of the team. Reward them for what they do well and recognize everyone for the success of the group but don’t forget that those you serve have a life outside of work as well. Let them be successful there too.

Foresight

Last but certainly not least is foresight. This is the one not exclusive to a servant leader. Leaders are innovative and creative. They see what is next and they adapt themselves, the team, their company, and their product. Never let your vision become dull or unclear. Never let it be set in stone though either. Let it change as the world does but please don’t lose yourself and your values.

5 Rules to Owning Social Media

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ImageIt seems that social media accounts are being used for everything these days. Political, social, personal, professional, and even advertising. How many people think about what their social media profile is saying about them though? These accounts give people the opportunity to create a truly global image from their palm, but they also give people the power to ruin their reputation permanently. These five simple rules are sure to give you the social media presence that will get you attention and esteem.

Say Something
It really defeats the purpose of having a social media account if you never take the time to update it. Say something about something. Take a stand. Post an article. Make a joke. If people never have the opportunity to read what you post, because you are not posting, then you are missing an incredible opportunity to be heard and to make a difference.

CreateValue

Social media is, however, more than just putting something out there. No one really cares that you are getting out of bed now or what you ate for breakfast. They want you to make an impact. They want you to share something new and valuable with them. They want to learn. Sometimes, though, they just want a good laugh. Social media gives you an outlet to spread your opinion–or corny jokes–to a mass market so take advantage of that and give people something that they wont forget. Shake up the world.

Lern 2 Spel

No one wants to have to decipher your post because you can’t take the time to spell check or because you believe there is some inherent value in spelling at a first grade level. Proper grammar, spelling, and usage makes a world of a difference and gives you that much more credibility over someone who does not take the time to read their work before hitting submit. Final point on this, prepositions are not words to end sentences with.

Take a Stand

Rarely do people want to read an article or a post that is merely relaying information. They are interested in where you stand on a matter. Use social media to take an active stance on the issues that matter most to you, no matter what they are. People are not going to necessarily believe the same things as you, but by opening up the dialogue you create a forum for discussion that gives everyone the opportunity to grow.

Be Mindful of Your PosterityImage

Once you post something on the internet, it is there forever. More than that, your online image is everything these days. Employers now more than ever are using social media to determine if a candidate is worthy of what they are offering. Keep this in mind every time you post something. Each blog, tweet, image, and status truly will haunt you forever.

Monday Motivation

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ImageHere I sit with only one month left of undergraduate education remaining. It’s a strange place in life. I have learned most everything that I can from my four years in school. I don’t have a degree yet. I have a lifetime of practical and formal education remaining. I have a great resume but little validation considering my graduation date is still in the future. So, I ask myself, what does it all mean?

It means ambiguity. It means that you are a single brand/product with the ability to define who you are and what you do. My experiences have led  to this point and it is ultimately up to you to decide where you go from here–unless, of course, you believe in some sort of extreme divine planning.

The challenge, however, comes when working toward greatness. Some choose mediocrity and I suppose I have to accept that as their choice. But why settle? To use the old adage:

Shoot for the moon for if you miss you will land among the stars

Despite the astronomical misinformation of the quote, there is some value in it. Goals should not, in my opinion, be easily attainable. Be ruthless in your effort to reach those goals though. Do not stop until they are met and do not be satisfied until they are surpassed.

Sometimes we each need a little pep talk to make it through the day. Especially Mondays. I hope this can act as a sort of rally speech for you and that some sort of purpose can be found as you finish out the day. Good luck and God’s speed.

 

 

Create Value not Noise

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I remember a time when the super Bowl was known for great football and great commercials. The Patriots and now World Champion Giants held up their end of that equation. A game that came down to the final pass after starting with a safety gave fans of the game a reason to stick around as well as something to talk about for weeks afterward too. What left me, and I’m sure many others guessing, was the lack of creativity and originality shown by most companies in their advertising during the mecca of all commercials. Considering the expense of ad space during the Super Bowl, I am baffled that any company would waste their very expensive 30 seconds on something so bland.

That being said, several companies took full advantage of their spotlight to create a memorable experience for viewers. On behalf of General Motor, Clint Eastwood empowered Americans with a  two-minute pep talk that inspired us to bounce back and take advantage of who we are and what we doo.

“This country can’t be knocked out with one punch. We get right back up again, and when we do, the world will hear the roar of our engines. Yeah, it’s halftime America, and our second half is about to begin.” (It’s Halftime America)

It was also my opinion that Doritos continued to used customer inspired commercials to reach their consumers close to home (Doritos Commercial). Acura also hyped up the value of their newest model the NSX with Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno competing for the first NSX off the line (NSX Commercial). While neither of these had the emotional punch GM carried, their creativity and humor created a lasting memory that I guarantee will carry over in sales numbers.

Considering most people will never have the opportunity to work on a Super Bowl Sunday ad, what do these commercials have to do with everyday career moves? As a professional, people are constantly given opportunities to create value. These opportunities can be rare for some and numerous for others but what really matters is how one capitalizes on the opportunities. Companies have one opportunity each year to advertise during the Super Bowl and as we saw, some fail and some are victorious. The challenge for everyone is to use every opportunity to grow and create long-lasting value. It may bot be a multi-million dollar advertisement but I guarantee that value creating opportunities carry their own proportional worth.

Innovation as a Constant

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ImageSo often, innovation is talked about as a singular action. A mere moment in time. An isolated product, idea, or event. As Paul Sloane (author of The Innovative Leader) writes creativity is the ability to conceive something original or unusual but innovation is the ability to act on that idea and implement. For me, however, it goes deeper than that. Innovation is a lifestyle choice. Someone who innovates does not simply create one new idea and then quit. Every action they take has the ability to be something great.

This kind of sustainability of greatness begins with constant calculated thought. The ability to look at a current process or product and determine “I can make that better” is not done on a whim. Pistons fire and thoughts ignite in the mind of an innovator to determine the best possible outcome for any given situation.

Innovators do not limit themselves to only thinking of grand achievements though. Often the most innovative ideas are nothing new but rather small improvements on the existing. It’s cliche but I must bring up the example of sliced bread. It was not exactly earth shattering for one baker in Davenport, Iowa to start slicing bread into manageable pieces for customers to take home, but the world has been forever altered by his greatness.

It is through this constant process of seeking the new, original and overall wonderful that defines innovation and separates it from creativity and invention. Innovation is then a state of mind and a test of character rather than mere happenstance.

Ohio University–#1 Party School!

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Congratulations to all current students and alumni of Ohio University! We have done it again, two years in a row as being the number one party school in the nation. That truly is an accomplishment. Tell your parents and tell your future/current employers. In fact, put it on your resume.

Now that the sarcasm is out of my system, let’s really think about what it means to be the number one party school in the nation. Really? Nothing. It means absolutely nothing. It means that based on some random polling and obscure statistics, Ohio University has reached some level of intoxication unlike any other public university.

I don’t mean to say that I am necessarily offended by this ranking. I have spent my time here at OU working extremely hard to get where I am today and this ranking doesn’t change that. What it does change, however, is how people look at this institution. How people accept, or rather don’t accept, that even though the bar scene is great here, our academic standing is still incredibly strong.

That is something to be truly proud of and for which to fly a banner. Ohio University has a strong tradition of academic integrity and excellence. That is what we should be celebrating and ensuring our rank across the nation. Why is the university itself not portraying this image better to the outside world–or even to us as students? Why are students and alumni so excited to be number one in this with no concern for being in the top 20 for anything else?

So, I implore you–whoever you are–to think about those questions over your next drink at the Crystal. Enjoy your time–if you happen to be an OU student–here and take part in everything this university has to offer. I mean that seriously though. Undergrad is a truly unique experience. But, think about what you are working toward. Being the number one party school can’t be your only goal for your time here at OU can it? Maybe I’m wrong though.