By Bob Williams

"What on EARTH are you THINKING", cried Jane?

"Just trying to MOTIVATE our sales guys", Dick said flatly.

"By threatening them with pointless KPIs and preaching about winning as if it were a football team?", Jane asked?

"Well, it is a "team", Jane, and you have to have measures in order to improve - go dig out your Demming if you don't believe me", Dick explained.

"Measures are great, Dick, and yes, we are a team. It's just that when you're dealing with adults, In a service industry based on relationships, there's much more to the story. You know I'm familiar with Demming, but I also know Robert Greenleaf kicked off an intelligent movement when he wrote about "Servant-Leadership", Jane said kindly.

Robert began explaining how leaders in business could be even more effective for the company, the employees and even the economy over 40 years ago, but there are still overwhelming numbers of leaders in the business world - especially in the logistics industry - who cling to the bellowing order-giver syndrome, or the big bad coach method or even the passive aggressive "I'm the boss" routine. It's still too common because we still have a largely uneducated generation of managers who have various degrees of ethics, empathy or the ability to understand and facilitate the rainbow of behavioral styles that make up a successful team.

In a service industry, LISTENING to your customers is MUCH more important than your customer having to put up with a barrage of spiels designed to change their mind. Most folks are smarter than that. Many will sit an listen to you, smile and react nicely, be very happy when you leave and make a note to block your emails!

In addition, as it turns out companies get in trouble by NOT listening to their front line teams who are always in touch with their customers! One of the primary and key functional assets of good leadership is the ability to listen to your team, assimilate the feedback and use it to empower, support and reward YOUR FRONT LINE TEAMS!

So, if you would rather hear yourself talk than coaxing critical information from your internal customers as well as your external customers, your company will eventually get the invoice. In fact, even the drives that some very successful organizations have now to promote creativity and disruption have to start with company leaders learning to listen more than they talk!

Of course, there are many elements to servant-leadership that Dick and Jane will inevitably encounter, but listening is a cornerstone of others like empathy, healing and awareness (duh), certainly should not mitigate the responsibility of all leaders to make tough calls, create or guide the company vision and ensure corporate health. Strategies based on servant-leadership simply make those things more conducive to success, more conducive to loyalty, creativity and healthy growth. Because it can help create a more serious sense of community and supportive exchanges internally, turf wars, political agendas and egocentrics become less important - all of which can lead to some serious succession planning that can sustain health and rewarding growth long term.

"So, Jane, are you saying that we should be working harder to encourage cross functional communications between all of our teams", asked Dick.

"Well, Dick, that would be a good start. In order to kick that off effectively, YOU and all of the management team might try to learn more about servant-leadership so you CAN lead lead the company by serving the people who make things happen most effectively", admonished Jane!

Stay tuned to see what Dick and Jane learn next, and how their adventures might shed some light on some spots you know that may need attention!!!

R Fain

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