I am frequently asked, why do you always put service and leadership next to each other? What is the connection between service and leadership? A great question, thanks for asking. Let’s throw back some questions: Is it service & leadership, leadership in service or service in leadership?
There is often more than one impulse to become active: A couple of days ago I was inspired by RichtigRichtig.com who recently posted a quote from Denise Morrison (President & CEO at Campbell Soup Company). In her quote she said “I think leadership is service and there is power in that giving…”
This is the one direction. Leadership is service. OK. But what about the other way round? Is leadership a one-way street? Leadership-wise I was raised in service business, actually in the carwash business. I learned my first real leadership lessons while working at a carwash, both from being led as well as leading the team. So I can tell you by heart: It works both ways.
How can you expect that your team serves your customers if your team does not experience service themselves? Your employees need a service environment in order to deliver outstanding service to your customers. They need a leader backing them. They need a helping hand, and feeling free to ask and receive support. They need to be recognized for the work they do, for the value they create, the important part they play. In the service business your employees are the face to the customer.
How can you serve other people if you are not served properly yourself? No service business without leadership.
I am glad that I had the chance to experience all this myself going back more than 20 years to my time at the carwash. At the end of a busy Saturday, having washed more than 1,000 cars, our local manager came around and said together with a handshake “Thank you, Carsten, for your support to day. You made it possible to satisfy more than 1,000 customers today.” This was not only a learned phrase, in that moment he was only with me, no attention for anything else around, I felt important. This feeling he gave me was worth much more than additional 25 bucks payment for a busy day.
Leadership is service & service is leadership. That is Service Leadership Culture. Thanks to Denise Morrison, RichtigRichtig.com and my former carwash manager for the inspiration.
For all those that are eager to see the entire quote, here it is
“I think leadership is service and there is power in that giving: to help people, to inspire and to motivate them to reach their fullest potential.”
(Denise Morrison, President & CEO at Campbell Soup Company)