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Posts tagged ‘Servant Leadership’

Books I have read – December 2009

Another monthly update on the books I read during the past month. For a complete a list, you can visit my virtual bookshelf.

Systemic Thinking

I read Senge’s The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization a few times so I was looking forward to his new collaborative book.

The Necessary Revolution: How individuals and organizations are working together to create a sustainable world

My Rating

A few words on the book: This time, Senge and his collaborators propose a systemic approach to help solve the environmental and social challenges we are currently facing (Energy & Transportation, Food & Water, and Material Waste & Toxicity). He provides real life examples of people and organizations who have successfully implemented sustainable solutions by: following a systemic approach, collaborating, and inspecting & adapting their production methods.  Although at times the picture seems very bleak, seeing true solutions to some of the most complex problems our planet is facing was encouraging. Overall, a good book to read.

Servant Leadership

In the past year, I have heard references to servant leadership hundreds of time. Since I like to learn about various leadership styles and after a colleague suggested this training course, I jumped in. For more details on this training course, you may want to read my summary.

The Servant Leadership Training Course: Achieving Success Through Character, Bravery, and Influence

My Rating:

A few words on the book: A word of advice, although the beginning of this training course (audiobook) sounds like preaching by an experienced motivational speaker, the references and analogies used throughout the course are useful and eye-opening. Our organization strongly relies on servant leadership principles and getting the bigger picture will hopefully help me improve along those lines.


After releasing his audiobook The Right Use of Power, Peter Block wrote this book that provides more explanation around his philosophy of stewardship.

The Answer to How Is Yes: Acting on What Matters

My Rating

A few words on the book: In this book Block details his philosophy about life and work and breaks many of the common assumptions one makes when entering the work force. He offers new paradigms and presents why the old patriarchal type relationship between boss and employees does not work. If like me, the status quo isn’t your perspective, you will like Block’s thinking but beware implementing some of his suggestions is very demanding as society doesn’t (yet) work as Peter suggests.

People keep asking “How?” as a defense against living their life, says best-selling author Peter Block. In this witty, insightful award-winning book, Block shows that many standard solutions and improvement efforts, reinforced by most of the literature, keep people paralyzed. Here he places the “how to” craze in perspective and teaches individuals, workers, and managers ways to act on what they know. This in turn allows them to reclaim their freedom and capacity to create the kind of world they want to live in. Block’s “elements of choice” — the characteristic of a new workplace and a new world based on more positive values — include self-mentoring, investing in relationships, accepting the unpredictability of life, and realizing that the individual prospers only when the community does.

Servant Leadership – A training course

As my commute to work takes around 45 minutes morning and night, I was looking for an audiobook for my drive to the office. I’ve been a subscriber to Audible for over 2 years now and after a few searches on the topic of Leadership, I came across James C. Hunter’s audiobook The Servant Leadership Training Course: Achieving Success Through Character, Bravery, and Influence. I didn’t know Hunter so I thought “Even a bad audiobook would be better than sitting in a traffic jam caused by a snow storm!” so I went ahead and purchased it. The audiobook is apparently based on Hunter’s earlier book The Servant.

My intend here is not to summarize the training course since I probably wouldn’t do the book justice but to give a few quotes from the book to give you a sense of the content and hopefully get you interested in servant leadership if this is something you would like to develop.

  • Leadership is not a position or a job title;
  • Leadership is influence;
  • To lead is to serve others;
  • Generation X doesn’t trust power people;
  • Two thirds of employees quit their job because of their boss;
  • Leadership is not management – leadership is about influencing people, not having power over people;
  • Leadership is not about what you do, it’s about who you are;
  • Leadership is the skill of influencing people to achieve a common goal;
  • Leadership is character in action;
  • Character is who you are in the dark when nobody is looking;
  • Your thoughts become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your character, and your character became your destiny;
  • You are either green and growing or ripe and rotting (I really like this one!)
  • Leadership is getting over your 2’s (years old) and start behaving like an adult;
  • Leadership is about addressing the real needs of people, not their wants;
  • The difference between power and authority:
    • POWER = Do it or else…
    • Power is “I have the position to make you do it, so you will”
    • AUTHORITY = I’ll do it for you…
    • Authority is “Getting people to willingly do what you ask them to”
  • Authority is about who you are as a person;
  • Power destroys relationships;
  • Business is a series of relationships.

If you are a people manager and wish to become a true leader, this training course will offer you lots of reference points. Similar to the concept of stewardship, true leadership is not easily accessible. Most of us need to change our behavior, attitude, and actions to serve others and then become servant leaders.

As I said at the beginning, these are only a few quotes and the training course provides much more material to better understand the context and background of servant leadership. Under 4h30, this audiobook covered my commute to work for less than a week. Now, I need to search for another audiobook. Any suggestions?