Serving Leadership: Generating Transformative Leadership Capacity

A whopping 87% of Amazon reviewers give authors Ken Jennings and John Stahl-Wert five stars for The Serving Leader: Five Powerful Actions to Transform Your Team, Business, and Community. Numerous CEOs have embraced the insights, embarked on transforming their leadership teams, and shared the book throughout their organizations. The book has been so successful over the past decade, publisher Berrett-Koehler has released an updated 10th anniversary edition. This post will highlight what makes this slim text so profound, results from testimonials, and how you can join an upcoming webinar with the authors.

A peek inside The Serving Leader

Best selling author Ken Blanchard, in his updated foreword to The Serving Leader, writes, “… Ken Jennings and John Stahl-Wert not only captured the essential leadership practices that are foundational to all extraordinary leaders but also provided a practical pathway for learning and growth that we can follow to improve our day-to-day leadership.”

Instead of the typical business book “how-to,” Jennings and Stahl-Wert introduce readers to Mike Wilson. The pages of The Serving Leader share Wilson’s exposure and deep dive into the practices of serving leadership in business, nonprofit, government, and community organizations. Wilson’s story and journal capture his learning and synthesis of the approach so that the distilled lessons can be conveyed to others. Readers are privy to Wilson’s own private thoughts, challenges, and transforming insights.

Through Wilson’s journey, Jennings and Stahl-Wert convey a model of leadership encompassing:

  • Running to great purpose – providing an inspiring “reason why” to motivate best effort.
  • Upending the pyramid – where leaders position themselves at the bottom of the pyramid to support and enable their team.
  • Raising the bar – involves leaders’ selectivity in choosing who joins the team and organization and high expectations of performance at every level.
  • Blazing the trail – captures the actions of leaders who model and cascade the methods of serving leadership and remove obstacles to stellar performance.
  • Building on strength – positions team members in the area of their highest contribution, leveraging their strengths.

While presented as somewhat allegorical, Mike Wilson’s journey represents actual learning and events of the authors’ experiences over a specific period of time. Wilson’s story incorporates self-examination and a component spiritual growth. The authors suggest a deepening of self-insight and growth supports the development of the serving leader skill sets, although these don’t have to take the form of a spiritual experience.

Orienting for results

The approach delivers results. One obvious reason to see success is the commitment of leaders who read The Serving Leader to engage in the self work, and then expand the model to their organizations. This mirrors the beliefs of Marshall Goldsmith—executive coach to top CEOs and executives globally and author of several leadership focused best sellers—who writes the “most successful coaching clients are dedicated to be great role models for leadership development …” and, “[o]ne reason that they are so effective in leading people is that they are always trying to improve themselves—not just asking everyone else to improve.”*

Reviews and testimonials appear on both Amazon’s webpage detailing the book, as well as in the front matter of the volume. The following are amongst many quotes:

“Bringing The Serving Leader into Industrial Scientific underscored the core disciplines that fuel our success—growing our people, raising high standards, and providing a compelling purpose for deeply worthy work.” —Kent McElhattan, Chairman, National Safety Council, and Chairman and cofounder, Industrial Scientific Corporation

“…‘The Serving Leader’ led to fundamental changes in how our executive team showed up and engaged with one another. It also had a profound effect on our entire corporate management team.” —Thomas J. Weider, Senior Vice President, Sales and Account Management, Fresenius Medical Care

The Serving Leader provides a new road map for leaders looking to achieve outstanding results. The principles are applicable to any organization and can transform the way people relate to one another in service to the greater goal.” —Richard Lovering, Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational Development, AtlantiCare

Learn more, direct from the source!

On Wednesday, March 9th, at 10 AM Pacific (noon Central, 1 PM Eastern), I’ll be hosting a webinar with The Serving Leader authors Ken Jennings and John Stahl-Wert. We’ll be covering the key principles, highlights of experiences when leaders and organizations have adopted serving leadership, and Q&A.

  • To register and receive access information for the webinar, (link deleted). [2023 Update: View the recording of a conversation between Dr. Kathryn Bingham and John Stahl-Wert on the LEADistics YouTube channel.]
  • To find The Serving Leader on Amazon, click here.
  • If you’re intrigued by the ideas of serving leadership, share your thoughts on the LEADistics Facebook community …

Are you ready to elevate your leadership effectiveness, expand your reach, and achieve greater results? Explore your options in a discovery session (schedule here).

*quotes from: Goldsmith, Marshall (2012). Coaching for behavioral change. In M. Goldsmith, L. S. Lyons & S. McArthur (Eds.), Coaching for leadership (3rd ed.) (pp. 3-9). San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.

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