Over-managed and underserved

Stephen Covey once said that he felt that so many people in organizations were “over managed and underlead.”  Meaning that there is a whole lot of management going on in our companies but not a lot of leadership.  His statement highlighted another reality, that there is a huge difference between management and leadership. You can be a manager who leads or a leader who manages but not all managers are leaders. 

Managers can micro-manage, be dictatorial, controlling and untrusting.  They tend to dominate rather than delegate.  

My spin on this concept is that people are overmanaged and underserved.  

From a Servant Leader perspective, the key goal of a leader is to serve their followers, employees, and clients.  It seems so counter intuitive.  But great leaders are those that serve.

What does serve mean in the context of leadership? 

First, know and understand the people who report to you.  They want to know that you care enough about them to know them.  Who they are, their background, their interests and their family structure.  They want to know that you see them not just as an employee but a person, a human being, with cares and concerns, gifts and talents, challenges and celebrations.  

To serve them also means you empower them and enable them (see next blog on the pitfalls of empowerment) to be the best version of themselves in the context of your organization. Because of you, their gifts and talents can contribute greatly within the organization. 

Support them with a generous wage.  Don’t strive as an employer to pay “industry standard” but be the industry leader with the wages you assign to each category.  Generosity is often rewarded by loyal and dedicated followers, and ironically not because they are making more money than the industry standard but because they sense and feel the company (or owner) really cares for them and values them. 

Serve them by listening.  Often times leader/managers listen in a way that is patronizing.  They have already made up their mind but facilitate a “discussion” on a subject in which they are not really flexible.  They listen by nodding their head up and down all the while not really tuning in to what the employee is saying.  

Genuine listening involves being open to opinions different, even opposite to yours.  A Servant Leader is willing the change their mind and take and use input from the people on their team. That’s not to say it’s easy, in fact it’s one of the struggles of leadership.  Confident, yes, but stubborn, no.  

These are just some of the things leaders can do to serve the people on their team.  


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