The best business books can vastly improve the way we run our organizations. The best books make us not just better leaders, better business owners, and better workers, but also better citizens and people. And so I gladly agreed to write a foreword to the best seller, The Serving Leader, by John Stahl-Wert and Ken Jennings.
Stahl-Wert and Jennings propose that the key to business (and community) success is what they call the philosophy of the Serving Leader. Hold onto your hats. This type of leader probably breaks every leadership principle you think you know.
The first of the five powerful actions the book proposes is what the authors call “Upend the Pyramid.” That means thinking of business owners and C-level executives as being at the bottom of the food chain (my words, not Stahl-Wert and Jennings’). It’s not what leaders do that’s important. It’s what leaders enable and motivate others to do that’s important.
The Best Reach-Down Is A Challenging Reach-Up
The Serving Leader, also recommends being tough on people. When business owners and leaders are tough by setting high expectations, people tend to live up to expectations. That’s human nature. The book summarizes this approach— like it does the other main ideas—with a clever and memorable slogan: The best reach-down is a challenging reach-up.
The book proposes building a teaching organization, giving value away, and focusing on strengths but my favorite concept in The Serving Leader might be “Run To Great Purpose.” That phrase is how the book describes the tactic of striving to do the most difficult rather than settling for what’s most possible. It also means business owners and leaders should pursue something beyond their team’s or organization’s self-interest. As one of the book’s Serving Leaders expresses it, “Making a difference for others is the point of our lives. It is the great purpose that gives us everything we need to run the best race we can.”
Perhaps this tactic is like high-end clothier Patagonia’s frequent pleas for people to not buy new products from them but to make their shoes, jackets, and other clothing last longer for the benefit of the greater good—the earth’s sustainability.
Implemented With Success
The authors claim that the book’s principles have been successfully used at many outstanding organizations including Southwest Airlines, Frito-Lay, The Cleveland Clinic, and Chick-fil-A. Business owner Harvey Mackay, author of several business best-sellers including Swim With The Sharks, calls The Serving Leader “…an amazing book that will challenge and inspire you.”
Now there’s a major aspect to The Serving Leader that I haven’t told you about. The book’s business and leadership theory is made easier to understand by an intriguing story line about a business savvy but ill father teaching his long-lost son how to succeed in business. Much of the book is dialogue. Sometimes you feel like you’re seated at a roundtable at a business leadership conference. Other times you feel like you’re witnessing two men teaching and demonstrating how to resolve family conflict. The format makes the business lessons easier to relate to and touches upon valuable life lessons.
Send For A Free Copy
If you’d like a copy of The Serving Leader by John Stahl-Wert and Ken Jennings just give me a call at 203.453.1017. My assistant Diane will send copies to the first 25 people who contact us in the next 10 days. I hope the book makes a positive difference in your business and your life.
Gene Thomas Offredi, CFP®, RFC™. Contact Gene on the web or by phone at 203.453.1017. Summit Investor Coach, LLC is a Registered Investment Advisor . Download my High Net Worth Individuals Retirement Series.