Servant leadership is much more than the current popular buzz phrase in business, it is rapidly replacing the antiquated positional leadership model than has dominated business for far too long. THE ART OF SERVANT LEADERSHIP by Tony Baron chronicles one company’s transition from positional leadership to servant leadership. Readers will follow the transition of Datron World Communications as it goes from the brink of failure as a positional leadership based company restricted by its company focus on bottom line and workforce complacency into a profitable purpose driven corporation with a highly motivated and engaged workforce.
In 2004 the struggling Datron was purchased by Art Barter. One of Art’s first actions as the new owner was to hire Tony Baron as a consultant to help develop Datron’s mission, purpose and values. This book is the result of that action as Baron chronicles the transformation of Datron into a company that exists for the sake of others.
The book itself is in two parts of four chapters each. Part 1, The Need For a New Kind of Leader, explains why Datron was for sale and how it got to that point; Art Barter’s exposure to the servant leadership model; servant leadership revealed through adversity and leading yourself before you can lead others. Part 2, The Formula for Success: Living for the Sake of Others, contains four chapters that delve into the development practical application of the servant leadership culture. Each chapter contains a recap of “table topics” that highlight the material and concepts covered. The Appendix contains a detailed list of other books on servant leadership.
I don’t normally include excerpts in my book reviews, but I want to make an exception here. Art Barter made a statement when developing the Datron compass that aptly describes the entire concept of servant leadership;
My management team and I decided that we didn’t want to operate our company in a short-term environment. We wanted to operate it in an environment where we were able to make decisions on what was best for the company, not only in the short-term, but also on a long-term basis. We wanted to have a very high trust level with employees; we wanted our employees to know we cared about them and their families. During the first year, we put together a mission and purpose that was very short and to the point. Our purpose is to positively impact people’s lives today and in the future, to leave the folks that we deal with better off than they were when they first met Datron. That’s what we focused on.
Along the way the book also includes brief narratives to illustrate the point such as in the chapter on adversity, the story of Liz Murray is outline. She is the young girl chronicled in the movie “Homeless to Harvard”. This orphaned girl did not allow her circumstances to dictate her future. In chapter 4 on Leading Yourself Before Leading Others, a chapter focused on preparation, Capt. Sully Sullenberger is referenced for the extreme preparation he went through that enabled him to be ready when he was forced to put U.S. Airways flight 1549 into the Hudson River and save the lives of all onboard. In chapter 8, Extending the Servant Leadership culture Into the Community, we read about Dr. Patch Adams and the development of the Gesundheit Institute which provides all types of free medical services.
This book is a very enjoyable read with a great insight into the practical steps taken and practical application of developing a servant leadership culture within a large corporation. Anyone in a leadership position will thoroughly enjoy this book. I give this one my highest recommendation.
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