My work with so many Leaders, and so many companies brings a wonderful variety of insights into among other things, Culture.  I have seen examples of high growth, constant change, dysfunction, passive aggressiveness, stable, transparent, innovative, academic, and more…

One Organization actually has imbedded within it’s Value Statement to recognizes the “infinite worth of others”.  This fits not only with their clients, and their employees, but also to their service partners and everyone who walks through their doors.

Imagine the effect on your Organization if everyone truly believed in the infinite worth of others.  What would be the impact upon your world of work?  Would there be bullies?  Where would ego’s get parked?  I imagine Trust would go a long way in relationships.

I have tried to adopt this thought in my own life.  I try each day to recognize the infinite worth of others.  I admit, sometimes it is difficult, especially in my line of work.  As you might guess, I might be working with some very challenging individuals or Organizations.  They are sometimes overcome by greed rather than selflessness.


This concept of Selflessness while recognizing the infinite worth of others came home when I was asked at a conference to comment on the three types of Leadership.

Three types I asked?  Could you please elaborate on which of the many styles of Leadership you are limiting us to discuss?  The audience member confidently replied, well of course I am referring to Autocratic, Paternalistic, and Servant.  Oh, of course, I almost mockingly responded.  I so enjoy it when an audience member tries to upstage  presenter with their “one shot” question.

When I was training to be a youth basketball referee, a question was raised about the heckling from coaches, players, and parents.  The trainer assured us, to remember who would be wearing the stripe shirt and whistle.  I’ve seen comedians strike down hecklers with one quick response, reminding them of who has the microphone.

I decided to rise above all that and treat the question with the intent it carried.  He was hoping I would support Servant Leadership as the desired model over Autocratic and Paternalistic.  I could see someone sitting with him from the same employer who might have been his Boss.  His interest was somewhat personal.

I began by introducing a quick summary of the three types he offered.  I wanted to make certain the confused looks on some of the other audience members didn’t indicate a lack of understanding these models.  Turning to my always available flip chart, I drew out a grid with 4 rows, and 3 columns.

Filling in the blank spaces I first outlined the Autocratic model served through a Dictator who treats others a servants.  Not a very good model I editorialized.  Anyone feel they work in this world?  There were a few chuckles, comments and several hands in the air.

The Paternalistic model is under a Parent, who would like to treat all you like their own children.  Parents with children’s rules and rewards.  And children out in the audience today I asked?  Again, some mumbles of commentary, and a few less hands as the previous model.

Ahhh, I began as I wrote in the boxes for the Servant model.  This is where all of the studies of the day take you.  Are you with the “in crowd” having studied a model where the Boss is more of a Steward, and chooses to treat you as Partners?  Here was the overwhelming activity of response.  A brief discussion followed by the success and difficulties differing Organizations had either understanding, or adapting to this model.  But, it was the model of popular choice.  And my audience member who asked the question was sitting proudly.  Great I said as I closed out the informal discussions.  That seems to be the more popular model here today.

As I turned away, someone asked what the fourth row was for.  Oh, the fourth row, well thats intended for a fourth model, but he only asked for these three.  The teasing was humorously well taken.

The fourth model I’d like you to consider today is the Selfless model.  This model is actually Led, and the intent is to make each of you successful and the MVP at what you do by selflessly facilitating your success…humbly.  How many of you have implemented this style of Leadership?  The room was quiet.

Look I said, Servant Leadership is great and I understand it’s all the rage.  But I’d like to see you as a Leader step away from being the star performer, and instill the actions and results of success within others, humbly…with Passion and Trust.