I've just spend a thought-provoking afternoon with Jim Autry. No, I've never met the man. But, I feel like we've had a personal conversation and I can call him friend. That's the way this book reads. Now I'm motivated to read his previous books: "Love and Profit," "Life and Work," and others. As a consulting futurist, I advise my client organization's leadership teams how to prepare for their future. The emphasis of my work is workforce and workplace issues. Looking at the design and performance of the corporation of the future, I'm confident that we'll see a significantly different style of leadership than we see in today's organizations. I teach-and-preach this shift in my consultations, seminars, and speeches to management groups. The emerging style is much more employee centered, less authoritarian. Some have called this emerging model "servant leadership," so I was eager to read Autry's book to learn about his perspective. Though a consultant and speaker himself, Autry's "been there, done that." He's practiced the principles he espouses in a number of settings, including in his former role as president of the Meredith Corporation's publishing group. This experience enables him to present real-life examples from his personal leadership career, moving this book from an academic treatise to almost a personal story of "here's how I did it . . . and got great results." Readers of this book will enjoy a feeling of sitting in a comfortable setting having a conversation with this thought leader. The book is organized into four parts. The first part, A Foundation of Character and Vision, presents two baseline chapters: Characteristics of the Leader as a Servant, and Understanding the Three Aspects of Vision. This portion of the book alone produced sufficient value for me that I knew I wanted to give this volume high marks. Managers and leaders may find themselves looking more introspectively at their own styles, values, and expectations as they read these pages. Sure started me thinking. Part Two of the book gets into some nitty-gritty. Application of the servant leader approach. How to build a community of people who enjoy working productively together to achieve shared desired results. Listen to the chapter titles: Finding the Right People. Training the Servant Leader. Tools of the Trade. Coping with the High-Tech Workplace. There were a couple of places in this portion of the book where my mind began to wander, but I was quickly drawn back to the text as I gained insight into how the principles of servant leadership work hand-in-hand with the more mundane aspects of management like job descriptions and performance appraisals. I turned down a lot of page corners. The book's third section is entitled The Harsh Realities of Organizational Life. In three chapters, Organizational Issues, Personal Issues, and Legal Issues, Autry tackles everything from Firing People to Sexual Harassment. In the fourth part of the book, Autry gets into what he calls Finding the Balance. Hard work doesn't mean nose to the grindstone 18 hours a day. A servant leader builds loyalty (Servant Leadership and the Crisis of Loyalty), and helps resolve counterproductive problems in the workplace (Conflict). The other two chapters in this section address The Responsibilities of Family and Community Life and Leadership When Things Go Wrong and Times Are Bad. Good stuff for today's world! The book closes with an interesting approach to an epilogue, Script for a Future Slide Show. In 24 snapshots of workplace situations in 2015, Autry gives us his glimpse of what life will be in the future with servant leadership. I doubt that we'll have to wait until 2015, agree that we'll see what he forecasts. I believe we'll see this leadership design in successful companies long before then, and it's application will engender positive differences in workforce stability, productivity, profitability, and the happiness of both leaders and led. The book includes a workable index, but I would have liked to see a more comprehensive table of contents. With that aid, readers coming into this book would have a greater sense of the value they will receive. I'd encourage you to read this book, with a mind that is not only open from curiosity, but one that is open to make some changes in the way you lead. Special note to aspiring future leaders: don't miss this one! And do some more reading on the topic as more books come out on servant leadership in the years ahead.
Is so-called "servant leadership" solely for softy saps? Is it a hopelessly romantic notion for the "why can't we all just love one another" crowd? Or is servant leadership an implementable approach to managing people that even a grizzled task-master might find appealing for its effectiveness? Such questions are explored realistically in this gentle, approachable book filled with beautiful and grounded thinking. Author Autry, a retired magazine publishing executive, takes the idyllic concept of servant leadership and makes it even more attractive by anchoring it in reality. As a former manager, Autry had to turn a profit, fire clunkers, and wrestle with turbulent economic conditions. He comes across as fully aware of the pressures bearing down on real managers --- and appreciative of the truth that a mere touchy-feely approach won't cut it. Even more importantly, he makes the ideal seem doable for those willing to do the, admittedly hard, work of overcoming selfish impulses that are antithetical to serving others. While a poet and imaginative optimist, Mr. Autry is no wide-eyed utopian fantasizer. Just as instructive as his attractive descriptions of serving-while-leading are his candid accounts of business people he knows who simply don't --- or won't --- get it. Anyone who rubs shoulders with workaday managers must conclude that at least a few are but self-centered neandrathals. Autry reframes the-boss-as-servant to mean functioning as a *resource* to your colleagues, not as a slave to them. And he provides many examples of how to take that general orientation and make it actionable. The Servant Leader is a book you can breeze right through, but should instead savor. It is a hopeful yet grounded work that serves as a practical and useful guide to those ready to receive its inspiring teachings. If you think you qualify, order, read and heed this wonderful book immediately.
..if all Managers could subscribe to this method. Mr. Autry presents his position on Servent Leadership, and makes all who read it examine themselves. It was great fun imagining a work place like the one Mr. Autry describes. First of all, the writing style is pleasent and engaging. Very inviting and not intimidating. It's like having a quite conversation with a peaceful man of letters. The book goes fast, so it's maybe three nights of reading time. The lessons contained are very penetrating. Self examination will be a good result of this book's reading. I particularly appreciated the section at the end of the book where 24 photos of a future company are examined. It gives hope to all of us, but sadly, I feel it's just too good to be true. Non the less, please read this book for your business soul, and maybe your business approach. It can help if we try to put it in place. Thanks Mr. Autry for the peace and humanity.
The book's title made me a bit wary due to the overuse of the term "servant leader" in today's business environment. While Robert Greenleaf coined the term many years ago, the absence of servant leaders in our companies and our society makes me wonder how many people have actually read Greenleaf's work or attempted to put his ideas into practice. Thankfully, Jim Autry has managed to write a book that not only addresses the true nature of servant leadership, but does so in a clear and no-nonsense manner. This book is extremely accessible without seeming elementary. From his very introduction, Mr. Autry manages to pull you in and make the reader interested in the material. Throughout the book, he uses examples to illustrate his theme that the key to managerial effectiveness (as well as company and individual performance)is putting the needs of others into focus. Many books tout a "people first" approach to management, but Mr. Autry's message is deeper than that. People first must be an automatic--everything we do in businesses and organizations is achieved with and through people. This book stresses that how you deal with people--customers, employees, colleagues and supervisors--will dictate success. And the how (that is, a set of practices that are principle-centered and based in large part on good old-fashioned common sense) is what this book is all about. I suppose it is the lack of common sense and putting others first in today's world that makes this book so insightful and exciting. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a well-written, intersting book that offers real help to those looking to become better leaders and supporters.
A timely and insightful book. Autry brings a fresh prospective to the leadership and management table. Too often today we hear the negative aspects of leadership. Leaders are portrayed as being consumed with power and greed, not motivated to promote the company and protect the employee, but to advance their own wealth. The leader that Autry describes is much different. This leader is a servant first, placing high emphasis on the worth of the individual and believes that the people are what make and hold the company together. Unlike other books on servant leadership, Autry gives the reader a clear, concise idea of how to apply the principals of servant leadership to the ethical and personal problems leaders face on a daily basis. He effectively illustrates "how to build a creative team, develop great morale and improve bottom-line performance". He introduces a concept that will be unsettling to some leaders when he states "Business is about people. Business is of, by, about and for people". As far as he is concerned organizations are not different, they may produce different or unique products, but they are all dependent on people and that is what makes them the same. This is not a book about soft or fussy management; it relates to business practices that we use everyday. Instead of focusing on the bottom-line Autry's focus is on people. He believes that if he takes care of the people that work for him and treats them in a fair and ethical manner he will improve bottom line performance. Autry addresses issues that HR professionals and leaders have to work with. The chapter on Finding the Right People is about recruiting. The chapter on Tools of the Trade focuses on job descriptions, performance standards, performance appraisals and rewards systems. Nothing touchy feely here, just areas that can either have a positive or negative impact on profits. These topics tie directly to the productivity of the company because, if done incorrectly, they will adversely affect moral and performance. There is also a great chapter on dealing with difficult employees, which I found very insightful. This book is a great tool for the leader that is looking to have a positive impact on the lives of their employees. It acknowledges the fact that you will have legal and personal issues to deal with and it helps you work though the problems from a different prospective. I highly recommend finding a place for it in your toolbox.