Marcel Schwantes chats with Harold MacDowell, an icon in the servant-leadership movement. Harold is the CEO of TDIndustries, a $631M company with over 2600 “partners” (employees) in the company. TD has made the Fortune Magazine Best Companies to Work For list for 17 consecutive years under Harold’s leadership. Marcel and Harold discuss the two sides of servant-leadership, and its personal as well as business impact.
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● Servant-leadership stems from a genuine desire to help others grow. It is placing the growth of other people above your own personal growth. Helping others grow creates more opportunities for the servant-leader. [3:41]
● Servant-leadership is a two-sided coin. Many people struggle to reconcile the two ideas because servant is equated with being soft, while leader connotes being tough and sometimes even mean. Unless they have had a role model, leaders find it hard to be comfortable with being transparent, showing vulnerability, and asking others to do the same. However, a servant leader must be willing to listen and empathize, while at the same time setting clear expectations and holding others accountable. [ 5:35]
● The most important questions leaders should ask employees are, Are you getting regular feedback from your supervisor? Are they telling you what they appreciate, but also what you need to do to be more effective? [7:56]
● Harold emphasizes that the only thing TD has to sell is the gifts and talents of its people. They use an upside-down organizational chart to help them remember that the most important people inside TD are the frontline partners, the skilled tradespeople who do the most difficult jobs for the company every day. Without them, Harold says, he doesn’t have a job. [10:00]
● Harold explains why TD has not gone public. [12:23]
● Marcel quotes Ken Blanchard: “ Servant-leadership is love in action.” Love is manifested through growing your people, developing them, respecting them, and providing for their needs. Fear, on the other hand, is the barrier that causes people not to feel valued or give their best effort. Harold adds that the secret to improving the work environment is to drive out fear. When we get fear out of the environment and get everyone to open up and share their best ideas, we can all find the answers together. [14:10]
● Our most precious resource is our time. Harold divides his week into 5 appointment buckets, and details what those buckets are. [16:18]
● Our political leaders can benefit from using Robert Greenleaf’s best test. We can begin to resolve our political differences by asking these questions from the test:
1. Do those served grow as persons?
2. Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, and more likely themselves to become servants?
● Servant-leadership has an enormous personal impact and a ripple effect on families and the community. It positively impacts future generations. On the business side, Harold finds that when we grow great servant-leaders, we grow people faster, we grow our business faster and we see great returns for our stockholders. [20:06]
- Kristen Hadeed: Can Cleaning Toilets Create Leaders? (Episode #17)
- Richard Sheridan: Creating Joy at Work (Episode #4)
- Ken Blanchard: Servant Leadership Is Something You Do (Episode #2)
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