How to prepare for and then embrace the privilege of being of meaningful service to others
This volume endorses the principles of servant leadership with which Robert K. Greenleaf (1904–1990) is generally associated. Here is a brief excerpt from an essay first published in 1970: “The servant-leader is servant first…It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.”
In TouchPoints, Douglas Conant and Mette Norgaard explain how and why great leadership is about servant leadership in human relationships, “about being present in the moment and feeling confident that you can deal with whatever happens in a way that is helpful to others.” Think about it. How many times, on average, during your waking hours do you interact with other people? Each interaction is a “TouchPoint,” one that offers an opportunity to make such contact mutually beneficial. ToughPoints can also involve sources of inspiration, knowledge, and cultural enrichment. To those who aspire to leadership, Conant and Norgaard offer an abundance of information, insights, and counsel that can help them to accelerate their development as leaders with a model that is most appropriate for them.
More specifically, they help their reader to prepare for TouchPoints, create situations in which they can occur, and then when they do, ensure that the shared experience has great value to everyone involved. The approach must be crystal clear, the intentions must be honorable, and the competencies must be applied with humility and gratitude as well as with confidence. As Conant and Norgaard observe when concluding their book, “The beauty of TouchPoints is that they are both approachable and aspirational: every moment is an opportunity to aim for mastery, while achieving mastery will remain an elusive target. That’s because mastery is not a destination – it’s a quest. It is a commitment to developing ever greater clarity and capabilities so that you may become ever more helpful for the moment.”
May your own journey continue from one meaningful TouchPoint to the next.
Here is a brief excerpt from an especially thought-provoking and informative article written by Ginny Whitelaw and featured online by Fast Company magazine. To read the complete article, check out others, and obtain subscription information, please click here.
* * *
This blog is written by a member of our expert blogging community and expresses that expert’s views alone.
Anything we’re trying to make happen as a leader involves other people, and the fact is, most people don’t have to follow us. They don’t have to believe in our great ideas, buy our great products, or do what we want them to do. Even when we have authority–as parents of teenagers will tell you–our power doesn’t go very far without others believing that what we want them to do is in their best interests. The pull of connecting to others and their interests is far more powerful than the push of control, especially when we find the intersection between their interests and our goals. How do we know what’s truly in someone else’s interests?
“Become the other person and go from there.” It’s the best piece of coaching advice I ever received, coming from Tanouye Roshi, and it applies equally to influence, negotiation, conflict, sales, teaching, and communication of all kinds. To become the other person is to listen so deeply that our own mind chatter stops; to listen with every pore on our body until we can sense how the other’s mind works. To become the other person is to feel into her emotional state, see through her eyes, think like she thinks, and see how she views us, our proposition, and the situation at hand. To write it out or read it in serial fashion makes it sound like a lengthy, time-consuming process, but in fact, deep empathy conveys its insights in a flash, and our ability to empathize deepens with practice, as we learn to quiet our own inner state.
[Whitelaw then explains specifically how and why "becoming the other person" is essential to effective leadership at all levels and in all areas of any organization, whatever its size and nature may be.]
* * *
To read the complete article, please click here.
Dr. Ginny Whitelaw is the co-founder of Focus Leadership, LLC, focusing on the development of the whole leader. A biophysicist by training, she combines a rich scientific background with senior leadership experience, and 30 years of training in Zen and martial arts. For many years she has been an executive coach, faculty member and program director with Oliver Wyman’s Delta Executive Learning Center. She has also served as adjunct faculty to Columbia University’s senior executive program. A seasoned program manager in telecommunications and aerospace, she has more than 20 years of experience leading multifunctional teams and complex change efforts.
Dr. Whitelaw spent 10 of those years at NASA, where she became the Deputy Manager for integration of the International Space Station Program. She led a large-scale change effort to re-align the management of the Space Station program. Her work using cross-functional teams became a model for other NASA programs, and she was awarded NASA’s Exceptional Service Medal for her efforts. She also has small and non-profit organization leadership experience, having founded and run 4 companies, including two major training centers for Zen and Aikido. A Rinzai Zen priest, she holds a 5th degree black belt in Aikido, and teaches Zen meditation alongside her work as a management educator and executive coach.
Dr. Whitelaw is the author of BodyLearning and (with Betsy Wetzig) Move to Greatness: The 4 Essential Energies of the Whole and Balanced Leader. Together with Mark Kiefaber, she has developed the FEBI® (Focus Energy Balance Indicator), a powerful assessment identifying one’s preferences for four energy patterns linking mind and body. She holds a Ph.D. in Biophysics from the University of Chicago, as well as a B.S. in Physics and a B.A. in Philosophy from Michigan State University.
Her latest book is The Zen Leader: 10 Ways to Go From Barely Managing to Leading Fearlessly.