Servant Leadership & Business: What You Need to Know
“Creating an environment where people are empowered to become better versions of themselves.”
Like many other industries, the commercial real estate business is fraught with examples of poor leaders. Many brokers are known for being slick, smart individuals who only look out for themselves. Their appetite for higher and higher commissions is never satisfied. But commissions are short-lived. Commissions force you to focus on the short game.
Instead, the Servant Leadership model focuses on the long game. When you focus on the long game, you make decisions that are in the best interests of all stakeholders. Over time, those stakeholders will develop a trust in you. They will want to work with you and for you. They will want your long-term success.
What is the Servant Leadership model? At McKinney Capital & Advisory, we came up with our own definition: “Creating an environment where people are empowered to become better versions of themselves.”
I recall a case where I was asked to advise two business partners on a project. My advice came not only from decades of experience, but from my core values which have been strengthened by the values of Servant Leadership. After our initial meeting, one of the partners thought my approach was not cutthroat enough to create the return he was looking for. He chose another broker to give him parallel advice on the deal. After a few months, my strategy not only turned out to be more accurate, but would save the partners from significant risk. When this fact became clear, both partners decided to utilize my firm. After the transaction was completed, the initial partner complimented me with the words, “Thank you for being who you are.”
Many of us are “numbers people” and need proof points. My personal experience with Servant Leadership within my firm would be simply anecdotal unless others have proven Servant Leadership to be actually good for business.
The first proof point comes from Jim Collins in his famous book, Good to Great. Collins said that when researching the book, he assumed he would know the names of most of the CEO’s of the best performing companies. However, this MIT researcher said that he was shocked when the numbers showed that the CEO’s with the best financial performance had names he did not recognize. As it turns out, the leaders of these great companies were humble, quiet leaders. Collins found that these leaders were not weak. They exuded great ambition and will. The only difference is that the ambition and will were for the welfare of the people and the enterprise, instead of for themselves. Collins provided the first mathematical proof point to say that Servant Leadership is actually good for business.
A second proof point comes from James Sipe, who wrote The Seven Pillars of Servant Leadership. Sipe looked at companies that declared in their values statements to be servant-led. He ran the performance stats on the S&P 500, the Collins’ companies in From Good to Great and servant-led companies. As it turns out, when he compared the stock price performance in each category, the servant-led companies knock it out of the park!
Business owners, I urge you to ask yourself: “Can I implement the values of Servant Leadership to transform my company’s culture and the way we do business?” It could be the best decision you can make, both for yourself and your company’s bottom line. Here are some additional Servant Leadership-inspired posts you may find valuable: