Not a day goes by without yet another stark reminder that leadership matters. And, that good leadership is not as common as one might wish. For this reason, I am so grateful that the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) sets aside time and resources annually to develop leaders.
One of ILTA’s signature leadership programs is its Leadership NEW.0 conference. It is held every year in honor of the late Chief Warrant Officer 5 Sharon T. Swartworth, a beloved volunteer leader at ILTA. This conference brings together current and future leaders from law departments, law firms, and the US Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps.
At this year’s conference, we will be looking at a model of leadership that does not seem prevalent but should be: servant leadership. Originally articulated by Robert Greenleaf in 1970, the principles of servant leadership are a vivid contrast to some of the selfish power grabs and lack of integrity we see too often across organizations and society. For Greenleaf, a servant leader is driven by a desire to serve the greater good. That drive causes the leader to focus on the development, growth, and health of that leader’s team.
In his preface to the 25th anniversary edition of Greenleaf’s book, Steven Covey makes some strong assertions about what is wrong with traditional approaches to leadership and why we need servant leadership:
A low-trust culture that is characterized by high-control management, political posturing, protectionism, cynicism, and internal competition and adversarialism simply cannot compete with the speed, quality, and innovation of those organizations around the world that do empower people. It may be possible to buy someone’s hand and back, but not their heart, mind, and spirit. And in the competitive reality of today’s global marketplace, it will be only those organizations whose people not only willingly volunteer their tremendous creative talent, commitment, and loyalty, but whose organizations align their structures, systems, and management style to support the empowerment of their people that will survive and thrive as market leaders.
…the old rules of traditional, hierarchical, high-external-control, top-down management are being dismantled: they simply aren’t working any longer. They are being replaced by a new form of ‘control’ that the chaos theory proponents call the ‘strange attractors’ — a sense of vision the people are drawn to, and united in, that enables them to be driven by motivation inside them toward achieving a common purpose. This has changed the role of manager from one who drives results and motivation from the outside in, to one who is a servant-leader — one who seeks to draw out, inspire, and develop the best and highest within people from the inside out. The leader does this by engaging the entire team or organization in a process that creates a shared vision, which inspires each person to stretch and reach deeper within himself or herself, and to use everyone’s unique talents in whatever way is necessary to independently and interdependently achieve that shared vision. [emphasis added]
If you are in the Chicago area on Thursday, November 2, I invite you to join us for a day of learning how you can become the kind of leader who draws out, inspires, and develops the best and highest within people from the inside out.