Serve to Lead®: Your Transformational 21st Century Leadership System
A book by James M. Strock
"an invaluable toolkit for all who seek to lead in the 21st century."WARREN BENNIS, Distinguished Professor of Business, University of Southern California, and author of On Becoming a Leader(edited by author) "a … see full wiki
What we have in this substantial volume is a cohesive, comprehensive, and cost-effect system that will enable aspiring leaders to understand what Martin Luther King, Jr., meant when asserting that "everyone can be great, because everyone can serve...You don't have to have a college degree to serve, You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve...You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love." You also need what Strock offers in this book: an abundance of practical advice that will provide invaluable assistance as the reader proceeds through the four-week process which is central to Strock's "Serve to Lead" system. Throughout his lively and thought-provoking narrative, he anchors his insights in real-world situations and rigorously examines the major leadership styles and those who best exemplify them.
He poses identifies and then explains "Ten Principles of Twenty-First Century Leadership" (Pages 26-64) that serve collectively as the ideological foundation of the "Serve to Lead" system. Strock also realizes the truth of what Thomas Edison once observed, "Vision without execution is hallucination." Therefore, most of his attention throughout the book is focused on explaining HOW to apply those principles in effective service to others.
Early in the book, Strock poses four questions that only each reader can answer. They are:
"Who are you serving?"
COMMENT: It is impossible to lead others effectively unless and until we are both willing and able to assume leadership of our own lives. Consider these lines from a poem that helped Nelson Mandela to survive more than years of solitary confinement in prison, William Ernest Henley's Invictus:
"I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul."
"How can you serve best?"
COMMENT: Just as we cannot be everywhere at once, we cannot serve everyone everywhere all the time. Strock urges his reader to select those relationships and those situations in which we can be of greatest service to those in greatest need.
"Are you making a unique contribution?"
COMMENT: This is best considered in combination with the second (previous) question but there are subtle differences, notably the reference to "unique." Each of us has special gifts, special talents, etc. If I understand Strock on this point (and I may not), he is stressing the importance of making a difference in a way that is unique to us. In a workplace, for example, some people have a special talent for formulating and then expressing constructive criticism; others have a "sixth sense" for recognizing when someone needs encouragement; still others have an uncanny ability to focus on a problems causes rather than on its symptoms.
"Are you getting better every day?"
COMMENT: I interpret this to have two key points: Increase the value of assistance to each individual served, and, increase the number of those who are served. Can I become a better listener? Can I ask better questions? Can I become more alert to the "messages" that tone-of-voice and body language send?
Before concluding this brief commentary, I want to discuss the four-week program that Strock recommends, one that will help aspiring servant leaders to get their values in alignment with their life experiences.
Weeks One and Two: Audit allocation of resources (especially hours and dollars) to serving others
Week Three: Conduct a rigorous evaluation of most important relationships in all domains (i.e. home, at work, in the community) to determine how each can be strengthened
Week Four: Move to the next level by reviewing and evaluating core values, ongoing thought patterns, routines, and "habitual ways in which you process and respond to your life as you experience it."
The details of HOW to accomplish these worthy objectives are best revealed in context but I do not hesitate to suggest that James Strock is both an idealistic and a pragmatist, one who is determined to do all he can to help each reader to become an increasingly more effective leader through high-impact service to others.
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