Leadership, for over three decades, has used MBWA – Manage By Walking About.

It has been the recommendation to managers to get out from behind their desk and into the work areas to see what employees are doing. The premise is that by observing the workers, one would be better able to manage their resources, and by doing so, be better enabled to make decisions for the company.

Another article by Greg Martin talked about the merits of MBWA and stated that leaders today should continue to use the practice.

From experience, I know that leaders are “walking about” more than managers, so why not a slogan for leaders?

Managing and Leading

Times have changed, systems have improved, people have improved habitually and intelligently, and leadership has broken out to form a separate methodology from managing in the organizational structure.

  • Managing is about resources, including the understanding that Human Resources is part of management in general.
  • Leading and leadership is about influencing, establishing relationships, improving performance while reducing discipline problems, and raising others to levels of effectiveness and efficiency that they themselves on their own volition would never achieve.

Servant Leadership

Over the past few years, it is becoming more apparent that Robert Greenleaf’s Servant Leadership is proving to be the most effective and productive method of leadership in successfully meeting organizational visions and missions. Greenleaf’s premise is taken from Herman Hesse’s Journey to the East, in which the servant Leo describes the “Law of Service”, which says,

“He who wishes to live long must serve, but
He who wishes to rule will not live long.”

Greenleaf identifies several characteristics of a Servant Leader, which include Empathy, Self-awareness, Listening, Commitment to the growth of people, and healing.

Foremost however, he says that true Servant Leadership is a “Calling”, which is a natural desire to serve others to make a difference in their lives. Of course, the concept of service comes from the example by Jesus who said, “I came to serve, not to be served.”

James Sipe and Don Frick, after in-depth research into the topic in several companies, defined the Seven Pillars of Servant Leadership.”

7 pillars

Leaders Having Pride

Motivational Speaker Mike Frank talks about “Leaders having PRIDE” – Personal Responsibility In Developing Excellence.

With his permission, I added the perspective of Servant Leadership, which says, “Leaders have PRIDEPersonal Responsibility In Developing Everyone.” This in turn led to my motto of “Developing Great Leaders Who Develop Great Leaders.”

Following the idea of MBWA, while thinking about the ideals of Greenleaf, it is time for a new acronym centered around leadership. Leaders need to understand that serving others – putting others first –  needs to be a focus in their leadership.

As such a more appropriate leadership acronym is LBSO – Lead By Serving Others

Leadership is About Serving

After all, everyone is a servant to someone in the organization. Several examples prove the point: CEOs serve the stakeholders; military members serve the public liberty from tyranny; supervisors serve their department leads and those in their charge; the President and Congress serve their constituents; and so on.

While it is true leaders can also be managers in their particular position, therefore,  MBWA relates in that capacity. When performing leadership roles, LBSO is more motivating.

How Can You Lead By Serving Others?

If you have ideas that 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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