Servant Leaders in Action – Eight Essential Questions

Guest Post by Chris Thyberg

It’s not easy being a Servant Leader. You may have heard that serving those you lead is “soft” and doesn’t produce superior results. In my experience, nothing is further from the truth. This is not airy-fairy, just-be-nice, pie-in-the-sky stuff. It’s hard work, but the payoff is huge. But to achieve exceptional outcomes is more than just espousing servant leadership principles. That’s easy. Putting them into practice will challenge your best intentions and test your leadership mettle.

ADP Research Institute conducted a Global Study of Engagement in 2018 that surveyed nearly 20,000 employees in over nineteen countries in order to determine what characterizes great teams. Their conclusion – workplace engagement is the key factor that produces exceptional outcomes.

ADP then posed a series of statements to uncover the most predictive factors for followers that produce the highest levels of engagement. And they came up with eight affirmations that far and away correlate with high engagement and excellent performance. If our people can affirm these eight essentials with a resounding “Yes!” then we know we’ve done our job as servant-leaders and can begin to unpack just how we went about serving our people well.

Here are ADP’s Eight Essentials framed as questions to start conversations:

  1. Talk to me about your enthusiasm for about the mission of our company. What’s got you jazzed up; what’s dampening your excitement?  
  2. Talk to me about expectations at work. How clearly do you understand what’s expected of you? Where is it still foggy? 
  3.  Let’s talk about core values. In your team, does nearly everyone share your values? Where are there gaps and disagreements?
  4.  Do you have the chance to use your strengths every day at work? What’s that feel like? Are you often slotted into tasks that sap your energy and don’t bring out your best”
  5.  Trust is the glue that holds organizations together. How are you seeing that your teammates have your back? Or don’t.
  6.  To what extent are you recognized for excellent work? In terms of rewards, what’s working and what is lacking?
  7.  How would you describe your level of confidence in our company’s future? What lifts your confidence, and what squelches  it? 
  8. To what extent in your work are you challenged to grow? In what ways are you growing now; what would help you grow further?

As you engage in conversation, you’ll be surprised at the range of responses. Some folks can’t wait to hit Zoom and get on with the mission; others want to hit snooze one more, very last time. For some teams, expectations are crystal clear and understood by all; other teams may feel like they can’t win the game because someone is always moving the goal posts.

You get the idea. Take it from here and begin conversations around these Essential Eight indicators of high engagement and superior performance. And have fun with it!

Chris Thyberg

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chris Thyberg is founder and principal of The Serving Way, a faith-based non-profit leadership development and coaching practice dedicated to helping you create true value for all those you serve. Chris traveled the path of servant leadership for over thirty years as a senior executive, team builder, facilitator, and coach. It has been his privilege to provide strategic direction for major universities and consulting firms, faith-based nonprofits and social service agencies, and businesses of all sizes as they navigate change and develop new initiatives that delight their stakeholders.  You can connect with Chris on LinkedIn.

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