July 23, 2011

Servant Leadership

NaviWorks leaders perform the song and dance number "Be Our Guest" for Dream-Makers during the last annual trip. After our performance we served food and drinks. Dream-Makers made sure we gave them excellent service!

Here’s a tale of two bosses I had when I worked at Yahoo!

The first boss (call him Andy) was a good guy.  He was likeable, funny and very smart and fiercely ambitious.  However, over time it became clear to the eight or so of us on his team that Andy was more interested in how we could help him climb higher in his career than how he could help us in our careers.  He was pleasant and friendly, but showed little interest in our career goals.  He helped us with our jobs, but “benign neglect” seemed to be his guiding principle regarding our careers.  He was all about driving results for his boss.  Fair enough.

My second boss (call him Bill) was different.

Bill was similarly smart, talented and ambitious as Andy.  But there was one BIG difference.

In our first one-to-one meeting together, Bill asked me about my career goals.  Then he said “Chris, I want to work on a plan with you to help you become a director in this company.”

And he meant it.  Whoa!

I was shocked.  Bill actually wanted to help me! And, later, he backed up his words with action.

Which boss do you think I worked harder for and was happier under?  That’s right, Bill.

I never forgot this lesson.

At VietnamWorks and Navigos Search, one of our top responsibilities as leaders is to give our Dream-Makers (or DMs, what we call employees) the skills and experience they need to advance their careers and achieve their own dreams.  All of our leaders understand that their job is to empower and support their people, then get out of the way.  We mean it, and we take action on it.

We call it “Servant Leadership.”  Leaders are servants of their people.  Check out a great definition of Servant Leadership by clicking here.

It feels good.  And it gets results.

Anh Trong serves Dream-Makers with a smile.

Viet Thanh, Van Anh and Hue Chi prepare to serve Dream-Makers.