Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Quotes from James M. Strock’s Book ‘Serve to Lead’ - Professor M.S.Rao

I have had the privilege of reading this award-winning book authored by James Strock. Among the inspiring ideas and insights from ‘Serve to Lead’:
  • If you closely observe a leader who is effective over time, you’ll find a commitment to learning. This is true in any field-from sports to politics, from business to religion, from music to the military.
  • Failure can be viewed as a learning tool. One of America’s paramount competitive advantages is our cultural acceptance of failure. We’re a people of second chances-even third chances. Students are allowed to change their course of study when things don’t work out. Business failures are overlooked and overcome. Immigrants come to start again.
  • In the twenty-first century, leadership is a competitive advantage-and necessity-for individuals and enterprises.
  • In the twenty-first century, more than ever before, effective leadership is about serving others. The Digital Revolution is transforming a transaction-based world into a relationship-based world. The capacity of individuals and organizations to serve others is greater than ever before. You’re able to create more relationships, and serve more people more effectively in those relationships, than even our recent predecessors could have conceived.
  • Learn the system. Apply it, with the input of a trusted friend or colleague. Teach it to others.
  • What changes have you experienced or observed in twenty-first-century leadership? Are you seeing leadership arising from unexpected people, in unexpected places?
  • What effective leaders do in the twenty-first century is quite different from recent times. What they are remains much the same as in distant times.
  • Everyone can lead because everyone can serve. Your decision. No excuses. No exceptions.
  • In the twenty-first century, effective management is based on recognition of the preponderant value of human capital. Management is not only in service of leadership; it’s increasingly merged.
  • Twenty-first-century leadership relationship dynamics are from the bottom-up rather than the top-down; from the outside-in, rather than the inside-out.
  • Today, the only, effective leadership is serving others. It’s no longer optional. It’s the essence of twenty-first-century leadership.
  • Collaboration-working together as equals – is not antithetical to leadership. It’s the primary working relationship fostered by twenty-first-century leaders. The most effective collaborations are more than unions of equals; they are unions of leaders, serving in dynamic relationships.
  • We are moving from a transaction-based world to a relationship-based world. Transactions often have been seen as occasions to seek unilateral advantage over others. Relationships, to be successful and sustainable, incline invariably toward cooperation, collaboration and service. In a relationship-based world, your self-interest moves ever more tightly into alignment with serving others.
  • The potent combination of empowerment and accountability enables people to have meaningful consent in their leadership relationships. To an unprecedented extent, people can enter into, withdraw from, or alter relationships. These are not the capacities ordinarily ascribed to “followers.”
  • A defining fact today is that the decisive evaluation of the contribution of leaders, including those in high positions, is increasingly based on the judgment of those they serve.
  • In today’s wired world, individuals entrusted with positions of power are accountable to empowered stakeholders, both inside and outside of their organizations. The resulting process of ongoing negotiation can be challenging. At times, even in the private sector, it requires an attention to public communication resembling that of public officials. While not an unmixed blessing, it helps maintain focus on those to be served. To paraphrase Churchill’s view of democracy-it’s the worst system-except for the alternatives.
  • Leaderships are becoming an open source project, where many people and organizations can apply their expertise or assert their views and values. Those being served increasingly have the power not only to define or expand the project, but to terminate it.
  • How are your own leadership roles evolving? How have they changed over time? Are your capacities to serve expanding? Are you serving different people indifferent ways over time? What is your vision of your future service?
  • There is no universal leadership style. A leadership style serving people well in one time and place may not work in another time and place-even serving the same people. The appropriate leadership approach is the one that enables you to serve most effectively in the circumstances at hand. A bottom-up, outside-in perspective mandates flexibility, innovation and adaptability.
  • What leadership roles have you observed converging? Are there additional roles you might play to add value in new ways and better advance your most deeply held values?
  • An inspiring vision is built on the hard ground of truth-and requires artistry to reach the summit. Effective leadership spurs new, creative associations of ideas and individuals, melding them within a framework making the vision actionable.
  • In the wired world of the twenty-first century, advancing shared values creates values.
  • When leaders fall short of ethical standards today, they illuminate a space where competitors can gain advantage.
  • Doing the right thing is, increasingly, a competitive plus.       
  • When your ultimate concern is those you’re serving, your vantage point necessarily is from the outside-in, not the inside-out.
  • Thinking about your own life experience, who were you serving at times of your greatest performance or accomplishment? Were you inspired to serve a person, a cause, an ideal? Are you performing at that level now? If not, why not? Do you intend to do so in the future? What concrete steps are you taking? Do you observe others performing at that level? What are you learning from them?
  • There are as many effective leadership styles as there are situations in which you can serve. The principle is constant and universally applicable; the applications are ever-changing, evolving to meet specific needs.
  • Can you list others who are served by holders of these, or comparably high positions?
  • Reflect on your experience: Who Are You Serving? Write down a list. Think about those you are serving, effectively and how you might do better. In what ways are you simply serving yourself? What areas of your life, and your service, do you regard as most effective? Why? Are you serving the same people and organizations and causes as in the past? Do you intend to serve different people and organizations and causes in the future? How will you decide? How have you decided in the past?
  • Reflect on your relationships of service. Are you giving your complete best, your fully engaged commitment? If not, why not? When in your life have you given your absolute best? What can you learn from the experience? If you have trusted colleagues, you might also seek their evaluation of your performance.
  • What are your driving passions? What brings you the most satisfaction? What are the values you regard as primary, which influence or determine your decisions and fulfillment? Do you have tasks that you feel you would die if you were forbidden to undertake them? Does your work meet these goals? Is it time to recalibrate your priorities? If you had just one year to live, how would you live differently? Remember: no matter what your life expectancy, you aren’t assured of any tomorrows.
  • One of the most important things you can do to transform your leadership-and your life-is to incorporate The Four Questions into your ongoing thoughts. Minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, pose the challenge: Who Are You Serving?
  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Of course, you would have them do unto you what you would choose-not necessarily what they would choose. So too, you must provide what they would choose.
  • The critical issue is not what you are selling-it’s what your customers are buying. Uncovering the latter may require deeper engagement and applied imagination.
  • The most challenging silos to break down are those of habit and custom: silos of the mind.
  • Today, you can create market value by sharing and visibly advancing the personal values cherished by your customers. The relationship can be dramatically intensified if they see themselves as living their values by purchasing and utilizing your products.
  • Customer indifference is the enemy. Mutual passion-customer and company-is the prize.
  • A company that lives by the transaction, dies by the transaction. You should aim for a unique, durable relationship that customers value beyond any particular transaction.
  • The never-ending quest: to serve more people, at a deeper level.
  • It is always right to serve the customer-but the customer isn’t always right. Customers may hold you accountable for disappointing results from your following their expressed wishes. They depend on you to know what they would wish done-if they knew as much as they expect you to know.
  • Whatever the nature of your enterprise, your ultimate concern is to serve your customers. You should mobilize every resource-financial, intellectual, emotional and spiritual-to serve them effectively. Ultimately, the culture you create for customers is the culture you create for your employees and others with whom you collaborate.
  • Your first task as a manager is to recognize and focus on who you are serving. A manager’s primary task is to serve an enterprise by empowering others to achieve their potential.
  • Hour by hour, day by day, the primary way managers serve their customers is by serving their employees.
  • As a manager, your ultimate task is to hire, motivate and develop leaders for your enterprise. You serve your enterprise-and your customers-most effectively by empowering your team to unlock their potential, individually and in combination with others.
  • There is no universal set of management rules to apply in all situations. There is a universal set of management principles, based on serving and empowering others. There are an infinite number of new and evolving organizational arrangements. This affords extraordinary opportunities for individuals to serve effectively in a range of circumstances which were unimaginable even recently.
  • Empowering management may begin as a top-down initiative to create value. The logic of empowerment dictates that, as it gathers force, it will inspire yet additional value creation. Even the most brilliant, well-intentioned top managers may not foresee the directions it takes. For example, as a result of the success of the ROWE effort, Best Buy CEO Anderson approved the creation of a subsidiary, Culture Rx. The subsidiary provides outside customers with consulting services so that they can establish their own ROWE-type programs.
  • Reflect on your life. Which teachers, coaches, mentors and friends had the most impact on your development? Why are they effective? When have you been most effective in mentoring and encouraging others? Are you applying those lessons in your workplace?
  • Prior to speaking to anyone in your enterprise-superior, colleague, direct report-pause to ask yourself: How Can You Best Serve This Person? Are you treating them as leaders worthy of respect? If not, why not? Strive to empower them, to impart confidence in and enthusiasm for them and their capacity to achieve and grow. Accord them the reverence due the leaders you can help them become.
  • Robert Rubin, secretary of the treasury under President Clinton, might easily have become an intimidating presence in meetings, demoralizing and deflating those with whom he worked. Instead, a New York Times profile noted, “Mr. Rubin often prefaces his opinions by saying, ‘I don’t know much about this,’ and then proceeds to lay out his argument by asking questions of those around him.” When they are offered in a supportive rather than prosecutorial way, questions-rather than declaratory statement-can empower others and tap a wealth of relevant information and insight.
  • Employees increasingly find themselves to be “at will” employees- they can be fired at the whim of their employer. Yet, in today’s networked world, employers can find themselves equally to be “at will” vis-à-vis their employees. High-performing employees increasingly have the resources and opportunities to move if they are dissatisfied.
  • You may find yourself navigating between intended and unintended-appropriate and inappropriate-offensiveness in service of your team. Seek out third parties who can assess the relationship and provide an accurate, unbiased and actionable assessment of your interactions with others.
  • Management comprises a distinct skill set. As a manager, your primary task is to hire, motivate and develop your employees (and others for whom you have responsibility) as leaders. You serve by eliciting the best possible performance of others.
  • Shakespeare’s adage- “all the world’s a stage” – has a whole new meaning in today’s digital, 24/7 world. No matter what we might wish, we’re all actors on that stage.
  • Everyone faces unprecedented opportunities-and challenges-in the new world of twenty-first-century communication. Any interaction with customers or other stakeholders can be turned into a relationship at their discretion-and they possess unprecedented capacities for communication and consent. Individuals and enterprises accustomed to one-way communications within their prerogative can be especially vulnerable to disruption.
  • The first and fundamental question to ask yourself at every moment of any communication is: Who Are You Serving?
  • Polls have found that nearly half of Americans list public speaking as one of their greatest fears.
  • Focusing on those you are serving, rather than yourself, is the greatest single factor in effective communication. Everything else is built on this foundation.
  • The value you place on your performance may differ significantly from the value your audience places on it. The audience’s evaluation is determinative.
  • In preparing any written or spoken communication, don’t hesitate to ask numerous questions in advance to determine how you can best serve. Your audience, and those representing it, may have ideas altogether different from what you would have anticipated. Collaborative preparation may result in a product more compelling than you or they independently envisioned.
  • The single best way to engage an audience is to supply-or suggest-an answer to a question they consider important. It may be a question they have articulated-or your presentation may point them toward an issue they are facing but previously had not framed clearly.
  • Effective communications engage audiences. A communicator may offer a recital reflecting talent and preparation, but not necessarily engage an audience. Edward Everett’s speech at Gettysburg was appreciated much as one might appreciate a virtuoso musical performance. Lincoln, in contrast, may not have made a comparable impression on the scene, but his message endured, engaging more and more audiences at many more times and places.
  • Stories can be powerful vessels to convey information. They can be the means by which information is translated into action, bringing to bear the energies and thoughts of others as they gather force and break out into multitudes of subsequent conversations.
  • Individuals unaccustomed to being interviewed often become separated from their audience. Reporters may browbeat or belittle interviewees. They may be tempted to respond with demonstrations of their intelligence or erudition. In so doing, they may serve themselves, serve the reporter-and quite possible not serve their intended audiences.
  • Preparation, as important as it is, is only preparation. The performance is the thing.
  • In effective high stakes communications, the persona, the history and message of the speaker or writer meld into the unity of performance. At their best, such communications can engage the speaker at an intimate level with individuals, even if they are part of a mass audience.
  • Are you improving in your effectiveness as a communicator? Are you more effective than a year ago? Two years ago? Five years ago? How do you  know? Are you being rewarded by the market? Are you reaching new audiences? Are you reaching new generations? Are your messages engaging your audiences as they change over time? If someone asked you to present on a key topic of your expertise, how would your presentation differ from earlier years? Are you offering new value?
  • Effective communication is central to leadership. Communication was all too often viewed as a support function in the twentieth century. In the twenty-first century. With individuals empowered as never before, even the most powerful organizations no longer control communications which affect their very existence. To be effective, organizations and individuals must make communication a core function that informs and drives strategy.
  • What are you selling? Who are you selling to? How are your answers to those questions changing? How would you like them to change? Are you prepared to commit to taking concepts steps to make yourself a more effective sales person? If you resist sales and marketing, are you paying a price in your career? Have you considered your effectiveness in persuasion in all aspects of your life, or solely in your work?
  • In the twenty-first century, you never reach a position where persuasion becomes unnecessary. There are fewer and fewer circumstances where formal authority can impose its will. No one has the last word.
  • It’s not what you want to sell: It’s what your customers want to buy.
  • Strive to serve, not to sell.
  • To persuade, you should, to the maximal extent, take yourself out of the picture. Your focus should be-in ways large and small, evident all-on those you are serving.
  • To be effective in persuasion, always keep those you are serving front and center in your thoughts and imagination.
  • Attempts to stifle disagreement, dissent, or negative feedback are sure signs that individuals and organizations are serving themselves.
  • If you are determined to persuade, be persuadable.
  • Walk with the customer on the path toward solutions to their unique needs. Position your value proposition as the inevitable destination you can reach together.
  • The greater extent to which you are able to communicate in a way which resonates with your audience, meets their needs, the more likely you are to reach the deeper level of connection necessary for persuasion.
  • The greater the change you seek, the more you should frame your arguments in terms of the values, history, customs, traditions and aspirations of those you seek to persuade. The uncertainty you would introduce to longstanding understandings and arrangements should be informed by and accompanied with expressed respect for the hard-earned certainties of old varities.
  • For effective persuasion, your format should engage your intended audience, the higher the stakes, the more fundamental the emotions and commitments sought, the more directly and deeply your format should engage those you serve.
  • To best serve others, discern and appeal to their perceived self-interest to the greatest possible extent. To persuade others to alter their ways of acting or thinking, you must understand the mix of interests and incentives to which they will most readily respond. You can transform your interaction into a joint endeavor applying your contribution to their areas of greatest concern.
  • A vision can provide a narrative in which individuals find answers to great questions. It can also seed their imaginations as they comprehend their lives in new ways. The result is a creative process in which the vision evolves.
  • The most effective communicators strive to make their lives a cavalcade of teachable moments.
  • In the twentieth century, authority conferred credibility. Today formal authority no longer gets the benefit of the doubt. More often than not, it labors under the burden of doubt. In the twenty-first century, credibility confers authority.
  • Individuals and organizations which resist changing the format and substance of persuasive communications are, to that extent, serving themselves. If they fall into the trap of distorting reality to hold fast to outdated notions, they risk becoming impervious to truth itself. The resulting ineffectiveness of their persuasive communications can foreshadow a death spiral, a broader incapacity to serve.
  • The most effective way to present yourself to prospective employers is to focus on how you can add value in the future, measure from their perspective. 
  • In a time when consent must be continuously earned, persuasion is the essence of leadership. At their best, persuasive communications impel individuals and organizations to decide to act in furtherance of a leader’s vision. Casting a vision-pointing toward a shared future so vivid it can break through established world views shaped by history, custom and ongoing experience-is a fundamental leadership task. A consequential leader personifies her vision, melding ever more aspects of her life into her service. Her entire life becomes a series of teachable moments. In the twenty-first century, even leaders serving relatively limited groups and goals must strive to conduct their lives consistently with their values if they wish to be effective.
  • Prepare to live more purposefully by drafting your own obituary. What would you like to say? What would you like others to remember about you and your life? What is your legacy? Draft a realistic piece-but aim for your highest goals, your ultimate concerns. You may find inspiration in reading well-crafted obituaries of memorable lives. One good collection is Great Lives: A Century in Obituaries’ from the London Times, edited by Ian Brunskill. Or read obituaries from the best contemporary sources, such as the New York Times, from the best contemporary sources, such as the New York Times, from the best contemporary sources, such as the New York Times, the London Times, the London Daily Telegraph, and the Economist. As you draft yours, strive for a longer view, an outsider’s perspective. Your obituary is, most importantly, a history of the relationships of your life. You may want to share your draft with trusted friends of and others who can add their points of view. In the end, others will have the last word.
  • Draft the single sentence that you would like to express the essence of your life. It may seem difficult initially, but limit yourself to a single sentence. Perhaps it would be the opening or closing of your obituary. Think of it as the ultimate take-away, the one, memorable, apt line that you would have others summon up in looking back on your life. Make this your vision statement for leading your life from this day forward.
  • Third parties-including objective friends-can be valuable in helping sort out your service priorities and choices. Relationships that at first glance appear to be based on service can be deceiving. People in Mrs. Jellyby’s situation may be acting out expressed or suppressed anger against those they believe they love. In other occurring in relationships initially rooted in service.
  • Just as foreign visitors sometimes understand other nations more clearly than the native-born, outside observers can help you see aspects of your choices which you may overlook or undervalue.
  • Are you maintaining your capacity to serve effectively by giving your health the priority it requires? Are you able to set personal goals and schedules which you enforce? Are you adjusting your approach to health and fitness to reflect your current stage of life?
  • Who are the most skilled listeners you’ve encountered? What makes them effective? How would you rate your listening skills? How do others rate them? How can you improve as a listener?
  • A life, viewed as a whole, may be balanced in terms of service-yet entirely out-of-balance at specific times.
  • How is your service changing over time? How would you like it to evolve?
  • Examines your own service.
  • Are you effectively deploying your resources relating to time, money, relationships and thoughts toward your highest priorities? Are your deepest values and lifestyle in-or out-of alignment? Even the best decisions of yesterday may not remain effective if unexamined today. Think of your service priorities like a diversified investment portfolios. Now and again, reflecting subtle and major adjustments over time, you may need to reallocate resources to advance your strategy. On other occasions, you may decide to revisit the strategy itself.
  • In some situations, the decisions to go all-in may be made more difficult by ongoing success in terms of financial rewards, status, and the approval or dependence of others. Have you gone all-in for a life consistent with your values and vision?
  • Diplomas and degrees are not emblems of entitlement; they are licenses to learn.
  • Over time, our day-to-day decisions determine our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual capacities as much or more than our inborn traits and gifts.
  • For those service effectively as twenty-first-century leaders, the life and the work are merging. Everyone can lead because everyone can serve; every part of your life can be placed into service.
  • The worst day of a life led with courage is better than the best day of a life cosseted for safety.
  • The essence of courage is serving others with unconditional love.
  • Every day’s a decision-a new opportunity to decide who and how you will serve.
  • Going forward, you can clarify your values and aspirations by drafting your own obituary. From there, you can come up with the one sentence that you wish others to associate with your life. It will become the basis for your vision statement going forward. Armed with your Service Map, you can audit your service. Take a close look at how you actually live-focusing on how you approach your money, time, relationships, and customary thought patterns. You will increasingly align your values with the seemingly “small” decisions constituting your life, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. You will be empowered to create your masterpiece of service. The pursuit of your masterpiece holds the prospect of the happiness that can emerge from joyfully, effectively serving others. 

It is one of the finest books I have read on leadership in my lifetime. It will change the way you think about leadership, life, success and service.  The book outlines 21st century leadership and servant leadership. It begins with the importance of books and lifelong learning. This book contains lots of examples and illustrations. It is written in a conversational tone. It inspires you to keep people before the profit. Each word in the book is a pearl. It is truly inspiring and worth investing your time. You can gift this book to your friends.

James has an immense knowledge and a kind heart to serve others.  He is widely read, and a true servant leader. He is passionate about leadership, and is an international authority on 21st century leadership and servant leadership. Succinctly, he is a SAGE on servant leadership.  The world is blessed to have a leadership legend like this.  Here are my testimonials about this international leadership legend: 

“There are only two leaders in the world who are competent to author a book on servant leadership―Robert Greenleaf and James Strock. James Strock is born to serve the world. The world is lucky to have a servant leader like him.” ― Professor M.S.Rao 

“If Robert Greenleaf is the father of servant leadership, James Strock is the SAGE on servant leadership.” ― Professor M.S.Rao 


Life is great!

Professor M.S.Rao, India
21 Success Sutras for Leaders: Top 10 Leadership Books of the Year (San Diego University) Amazon URL: http://www.amazon.com/21-Success-Sutras-Leaders-ebook/dp/B00AK98ELI

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