Are you fully satisfied with the culture magnified through movies, TV, and society in general?

How does it affect your leadership, more specifically your serving the needs of others nature, when your behavior is broadcast to those with whom you interact?

Servant Leadership

For years, human nature dictated behavior in treating others with respect, with ethical correctness, and with interactions grounded in the Golden Rule, “Doing unto others as you would like others to do unto you.”

George Washington, at age sixteen, created “110 Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation”, which he based on a set of rules composed by French Jesuits in 1595.

Civility Projects

Civility Projects are springing up nationwide attempting to return civility to society – personally and professionally. Hence, the very nature of Servant Leadership is the most logical leadership philosophy to be followed.

Speak Your Peace, Rutgers University, Alverno College, and the Oshkosh Civility Project are a few examples of entities who have initiated actions to return civility to society.

In addition, P. M. Forni’s book “Choosing Civility” expounds on 25 way to improve civility in human interactions.

Forni’s Ideals

Servant Leaders, whose vision is to make people better in a wide variety of ways, naturally exhibit many of Forni’s ideals in their day-to-day leadership of their people.

Below are a few examples for servant leaders to follow.

1. Pay Attention/Listen

Listen intently when others are speaking. Inhibit the “inner voice” from interrupting with comments such as “The problem is…….”, or “We’ve always done it this way” in an attempt to stop the flow of ideas and suggestions.

Listen for the “intent” and “will” of what is being said.

Look for non-verbal communications and maintain eye-to-eye contact with the person with whom you are speaking. Lastly, listen to understand.

2. Be Inclusive

Civility knows no ethnicity or race, no level of leadership, no forum, no religion, no sexuality, no generation, and no bounds.

Being inclusive includes everyone. It is about leading and serving for the betterment of mankind.

3. No Gossiping

Gossiping is one of the most hurtful behaviors and accomplishes nothing.

Most of the time, it is negative and provocative.

It is idle words, often divisive and destructive. In some cases, it is also racist. All of which only lower esteem.

4. Be Respectful

First of all, remember that respect has nothing to do with liking or disliking someone. Everyone deserves a certain level of respect. We all expect to be respected for who we are and what we have accomplished.

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The point I always make with my students is that, contrary to the common comment of “respect is earned,” how much more or less respect one garners depends on individual behavior, respect toward others, and the common decency, i.e. civility, extended toward others.

Civility is Respectful Behavior,” Respect is “Honorable Behavior.”

5. Build Relationships

Servant Leadership is about building relationships. Therefore, being civil is especially helpful in this process.

There is no room for boasting and prideful attitudes. Humility is the adhesive that solidifies teamwork and seeks to repair damaged relationships.

Seek to apologize, forgive and affirm success of others.

6. Use Constructive Language

Be mindful of the words you use when you use them, and also of the words you speak through your non-verbal communications.

Foul language in the middle of the ocean, out of sight and sounds of others, may serve a purpose.

However, foul language in a public forum is disrespectful toward others.

More specifically, foul language often indicates an inability to use correct language, as well as a limited repository of words and their usage.

7. Take Responsibility

Don’t shift responsibility or place blame on other people.

Hold yourself accountable, accept your faults, speak positively, clean up your language and respect everyone.

Be the example.

Principles and Practices

These are just a few of examples Servant Leaders need to follow in their interactions with other – all the time, in every situation and regardless of the type of organization in which one belongs.

Not only is it time to restore civility in all aspects of our lives, it is essential in your servant leadership principles and practices.

Are you doing your part? Are you always civil in the example you set for others?

How Do You Work on Servant Leadership?

If you have ideas you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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David McCuistion
David is a retired Naval Officer with extensive leadership and management experience including Officer-in-Charge of a major communication facility, in secondary education teaching leadership, and over five years public speaking on Servant Leadership and organizational development topics.
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