The Servant-Leader roundtable gathering held on August 24 focused on leveraging those times when the operations/business cycle allows some to be idle while others are busy. The conversation quickly moved to the development of an organizational culture that encourages the development of self and others as an integral part of a servant leadership focused organization. The elements of servant leadership highlighted below include: awareness, listening, foresight, and persuasion. There is also a strong undercurrent of building community throughout the notes.

The notes include the following sections:

Topic: The challenge of leading when we have more people than work to do.

On any given day the level of effort required of individuals and workgroups ebbs and flows from relaxed to intense. The frequency of variation depends upon the operational and business cycles of the organization and can easily be affected by leadership practices.


  • Technology turns over every seven years.
  • Unemployment is at a 44 year low.
  • The internet makes a great deal of information readily available on almost any subject at any time.

Need to have an open candid trusting environment to process all of these factors.


  • We need to understand what motivates people. For some it’s title/position. For some it’s money/financial reward. For many, public recognition is a strong motivator.
  • Just showing people the doors of opportunity available to them can be a source of motivation to explore self-improvement.
  • Avoid depending only on email. Different individuals process information in different ways. There is no substitute for face-to-face interaction when it comes to interpreting body language.


  • There needs to be a basis of trust between management and employees.
  • We need to let people know they are important.
  • Scheduling one-on-one time with each staff member is a way to ensure individualized contact. It should be their time to direct the conversation.
  • Allowing people to identify how to be productive in slack times can be a good way to discover both potential in others and problems that are not obvious from a manager’s perspective.


  • Encourage people to read or learn during slow times.
  • Help nurture your employee’s personal growth. Appreciate creativity when there is idle time available.
  • Encouraging cross training among staff members develops leadership potential, allows growth through learning, and develops organizational capacity.
  • Retention and career management is golden for an organization.
  • We as leaders own the culture. We need to model the way.


  • We need to put people in positions with new challenges to give them the experiences they need.
  • Grooming people to take your position can be a hard thing to do.
  • Put effort and monetary resources into encouraging continuous learning.
  • Make learning objectives a part of the performance review.

The group meets weekly in the Milwaukee area. All are welcome to join these roundtable conversations. If you would like to join the Servant-Leader Milwaukee mailing list, click here:

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