A Tip for Tuesday – Making it in PR
December 14, 2010
Bob Feller – 1918-2011
December 16, 2010
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Sometimes for our book club, we search high and low for the perfect fit. And sometimes, books just fall into our laps.

This very thing happened to Alison when she began looking for her next book club book. At the same time, she was pitching a story for a client on a concept called servant leadership, which is a powerful and proven method used to achieve personal and organizational success. It centers on principles that encourage the identification and satisfaction of others’ needs through personal empowerment.

After securing a bylined article opportunity on the topic, Alison spent some time investigating where the concept came from. Our client, turns out, was inspired by a book titled The Servant as Leader. Given HMA’s year-long quest to serve, it seemed a perfect fit.

The concept is of Servant Leadership is simple - if you care enough to first serve others, you will be enriched with personal and organizational success. It is something HMA embraces, but there is always more to know.

Below are the best tips Alison found in the book – and even a little test you can take to determine your level of servant leadership.

Ten Principles

  • Listen. Learn to naturally respond to problems by listening first.
  • Be Empathetic. Master the ability to see the world through another’s eyes. This requires the leader to have a genuine interest in his/her client and coworker demonstrated by acceptance of each person, including their special needs and unique personality. However, the ability empathize does not mean the leader tolerates unacceptable behavior or performance.
  • Have Foresight. Acknowledge that every important business decision is made with incomplete information. Foresight fills the gap from what is known to the unknown by using intuitive business judgment. Intuition is developed by leveraging past lessons and accepting current realities to help the leader anticipate the consequences of each decision.
  • Be Aware. Every good leader must have a general awareness of the business, clients and coworkers. Servant leaders, however, are inclined to seek out specific information believed to be potentially helpful to clients and coworkers. They are acutely self-aware and work to stay apprised about general business conditions as well as specific client and coworker matters.
  • Be Persuasive. Servant leaders have highly developed persuasive skills. They persistently provide convincing and compelling arguments to achieve desired results. But, but they are not coercive and avoid using position and power for decision making.
  • Be Conceptual. There is tremendous value for your clients and coworkers to have complex problems simplified and communicated using a conceptual framework. This is particularly important when leaders are trying to inspire clients and coworkers to a achieve vision of a desired future state.
  • Be a Healer. Recognize that a leader has a unique responsibility to heal. In this sense, it means to make yourself and your relationships whole or complete. As a role model, your desire is to see this caring attitude reflected by a shared search for organizational wellness.
  • Be a Steward. This requires a mindset to leave each client and coworker relationship, and the overall organization, in a better state than before you were involved. It requires a commitment to serve the needs of others and an acknowledgment of the trusted position you have accepted as a leader.
  • Be Committed to People. Successful leaders have a passion for the personal growth and development of their clients and coworkers. They recognize that clients have significant importance beyond the fees generated and that coworkers have intrinsic value beyond their workplace contributions.
  • Build Community. Build an organization of people that nurture a sense of community amongst clients and coworkers. Create an environment of belonging and inclusion. Generate a genuine sense of pride that is reflected in your clients and coworkers.

Personal Readiness for Servant Leadership

Are you a Servant Leader? Do you display the characteristics required for Servant Leadership? Well. Let’s find out. Answer the following questions TRUE or FALSE to assess whether you are choosing to be a Servant Leader to your clients and coworkers.

  1. I know my important client’s family and personal interests.
  2. I usually find ways to get coworkers involved in workplace activities.
  3. I work on improving coworker relationships every day.
  4. My business intuition helps me successfully deal with workplace problems.
  5. My natural response to a workplace problem is to listen.
  6. I am able to summarize messy client issues in simple conceptual terms.
  7. My client service is usually based on improving my client’s business.
  8. I am sought out regularly as a coach or mentor for coworkers.
  9. I regularly send business news clippings to my clients.
  10. I never use my official title to execute business decisions.

If you answered all of these questions as TRUE, you are demonstrating Servant Leadership. Anything less means there is room for improvement.

So, how did you stack up?

Abbie S. Fink
Abbie S. Fink
Vice President/General Manager Abbie has been doing public relations her whole life…from organizing a picket line in 6th grade to organizing client communications today. She’s passionate about a lot of things, you’ll see. Check out Abbie's full bio


  1. Okay, so if I am asking you all to take the servant leader test, it is only fair I do too.

    As it turns out, I think I am about 8 for 10.

    #5 – Well, my natural instinct is always to talk so I don’t pass this one. Something to work on!

    #6 – As my husband will tell you, I hate summarizing! I love to explain, explain, explain!

  2. The leadership programs available in Arizona, Valley Leadership and Scottsdale Leadership are the two with which I am most familiar, are tremendous programs that further expose and develop participants into servant leadership principles and actions. Like the book — thumbs up.

  3. Great post. . .we just got out of a new business meeting and the prospect reiterated #1 – always listen first. Because we listened (and did what he asked in the discovery meeting), we made it to the finals. Great advice.

  4. I am a huge proponent of servant leadership – in order to lead you must serve. It has been a guiding principle for all my volunteer efforts and was stressed consistently during my time in Scottsdale Leadership.

    Based on the above — my area for improvement would be #5. I’m a fixer, so my tendency is to listen a little bit and then jump in with a solution. Sometimes, you just need to let the situation work its way through.

  5. Cynde C says:

    Thanks for sharing.

    This is a wonderful book; I discovered a lot about myself when I read it. These are tenets that are often helpful not just in how we conduct our business, but also in how we pursue some of our more personal endeavors, such as volunteering – serving on Boards, committees, etc.

    Another book that I love is “Good to Great.” It is a great business companion book.

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