Servant Leadership at 3DENT
Feb 1, 2018 News Archive
What is servant leadership? I like how Rico Maranto defines servant leadership in his article “Ten Tips for Cultivating a Servant Leadership Culture.” Rico says “servant leadership turns the traditional leadership pyramid upside down, placing leaders at the bottom to serve the employees above them. It is putting the success of those you lead above your personal interests, serving not self-serving.”
After watching a video lecture series provided by the Servant Leadership Summit (servantleadershipsummit.com), I’ve noticed some parallels between the qualities of servant leaders and the leaders we have here at 3DENT. The specific parallels I notice are in the motivation, flexibility, learning and vulnerability of the 3DENT leaders. To note, this article is to provide an unbiased assessment of the level of servant leadership in the company as well as to provide recommendations on how servant leadership can be more incorporated not only into 3DENT but every company that wants to explore the benefits of servant leadership.
First, the motivation to accomplish great work at 3DENT is exceptional, and this can be attributed to the leadership at 3DENT. The leaders of 3DENT have gone beyond the expectation of giving instruction to their employees. The leaders hold company lunches, ask employees to have one-on-one conversations with them to personally discuss not only how is their work is going but also to discuss personal topics and how the employees view the company in all aspects, and the leaders also hold company outings and team breakfast meetings to increase camaraderie. How do these methods of improving motivation correlate with servant leadership? The job of a great servant leader is to create a motivating environment for their employees. How? You make your people (employees) feel loved. If your employees know that you care about them in all aspects, they will want to work hard for you. As Ken Blanchard stated in the servant leadership summit, “Profit is the applause you get for creating a motivating environment for your people, so they (your people) can take care of your customers.” Therefore, your profit as a company is the fruit of your servant leadership labor. A great example of this is the company Popeye’s. Popeye’s corporate office took on a servant leadership attitude after the fast food chain saw a low in stock market shares of $11.00. They decided to switch from an attitude of distrust and disdain of their franchise owners to an attitude of love and trust in their franchise owners. Why? They finally figured out that their franchise owners (the franchisees) were the foundation of the franchise. As Cheryl Bachelder (Former CEO of Popeyes) stated, “Nobody cares about the franchise more than the franchisees.” With this switch of now making the franchise owners feel loved and served, stock market shares of Popeyes went from $11.00 to over $70.00.
Second, the learning and vulnerability at 3DENT are great examples of servant leadership. Learning is one of the core values here at 3DENT. As a core value, learning is defined here as the commitment to the process of experimentation, the acquisition of knowledge and skill, and the encouragement of creativity and innovation. Ken Blanchard states that “when you’re leading, don’t ever stop learning.” Learning what? Everything I believe. You want to learn about your employees, not just their strengths and work habits but also about their personal lives. Not every employee may like to be treated or talked to in the same way. Leaders should always learn about new technologies that can potential help their company. Leaders can also invest in soft skills, such as social interaction, public speaking, and psychology. Mark Miller, vice president of Chick-Fil-A, told a great story about why he believes learning is so important. “A 20-year-old student walks by professor’s house every morning and night, and he always sees the professor studying. One day, the student asks the professor, ‘How long have you been studying?’ The professor said, ‘Over 30 years.’ The student then asks, ‘Haven’t you figured it out yet?’ The professor replied, ‘I decided a long time ago that I want my students to drink from a running stream rather than a stagnant well.’” What about vulnerability? I believe vulnerability and learning go hand in hand. Why? I see vulnerability as admitting that you do not know everything. Liz Wisemen said during the Servant Leadership Summit that “there is too much in this world for any one person to know it all.” Ken Blanchard said, “If you are a ‘know-it-all’ in the military, it’s more likely that your own men will shoot you before the enemy does.” What happens when you don’t know everything? If you are motivated, you learn. When I first started at 3DENT, I was impressed by how much my bosses (leaders) knew about the offshore industry. I wanted and still want to learn, and I continue to see that same quality in our leadership. Because of our culture of learning, the employees of the company know have additional knowledge to aid the company, which helps our leadership in two ways:
1. The company benefits from the employee’s ability to help each other instead of the management always being involved to solve technical issues.
2. Leadership now has additional free time to learn new abilities and techniques to continue to improve the company.
We have developed a culture of learning here at 3DENT, and I do not see that changing.
Last, the flexibility at 3DENT shows how servant leadership exists here at the company. For me especially, the flexibility here shows that the bosses here care about their employees (i.e., make them feel loved). Whenever we have a personal emergency for example, the bosses here allow us to take personal time without hesitation. Because of this, I volunteer nights and weekends:
3. to make sure projects are done by the deadline and done correctly.
4. to work on tools and nonpaying work that will improve the company status and increase productivity when doing paying work.
If you want to be a great leader, learn what your employees greatly value, and give them what they want. As John Hope Bryant of the Servant Leadership Summit said, “What goes around, comes around. The more you give, the more you get back in the end”.
There are other ways to tie leadership at 3DENT to servant leadership, but I have described the examples above to show that servant leadership does exist here at 3DENT, and it is a big reason why we have been stable as a company in an offshore market that is currently unstable.