News and Reviews

Greenleaf Centre UK Awards Larry Spears

At our January meeting last year the Greenleaf UK Board agreed that we should, at our 2015 conference, recognise the contribution made to our centreís work by one of our longest standing friends and supporters.

Larry Spears has been a staunch ally for many years, always lending ideas and encouragement when they were most needed, and asking the occasional searching Ė sometimes awkward - question when it was most warranted. We owe him a real and lasting debt of gratitude.

Itís very difficult to sum up in a few words just how much we owe Larry; indeed the whole servant-leadership community is in his debt. During his term as CEO at The Greenleaf Center in the United States, interest in servant-leadership spread substantially, and a number of international centres were established, independent from, but greatly encouraged by Larry and the then Greenleaf Center Board.

Greenleaf UK essentially was established when Ralph Lewis and I met back in 1996 and it was Larry who actually brokered that meeting. It was also largely his encouragement that led Ralph and myself to believe we really could get a Centre going here in the UK, and at very short notice - the kind of short notice that would today cause my blood to run cold - we set up our very first conference in 1997 with his help and that of his colleague Richard Smith. That was way back then, and here we are all these years later, planning our 20th annual conference for later this year.

Larry has been a regular attendee at our conference for a number of years and has presented on three separate occasions. His support and encouragement have remained a constant throughout the years, and it has been a pleasure to welcome him back to London every November.

The Board decided that it should find some tangible way of expressing our thanks and appreciation to Larry. We agreed on a form of words, and then passed the project on to Pat Reid, the Board member working in the creative world, to design and produce something fitting for the occasion. The results, shown here, confirmed that the right person had undertaken the task.

January 2016

The Happy Manifesto: Make Your Organisation a Great Workplace - Now!

Henry Stewart ISBN 978-0-9561986-1-7 The Happy Manifesto: Make Your Organisation a Great Workplace - Now!, by Henry Stewart - book cover

There are a number of books on leadership that one might buy, read, and then assign to the bookshelves. This is not one of those. The Happy Manifesto is one that you will want to read, and then keep by you to refer to again and again.

This is a book that seeks to help organisations develop attitudes and structures that make autonomy and trust in the workplace a reality. Henry's thesis is simply that more engaged employees are more productive, more committed and much more likely to lead to a profitable company. And we all know this to be true. The Happy Manifesto addresses contemporary topics such as life work balance, openness and transparency, and corporate responsibility. These are, of course, topics that have been written about extensively, yet Henry somehow manages to throw a different light on them, with a simplicity of expression and a clarity of vision that are irresistible. In addition, a generous use of relevant real-life case studies helps bring an authenticity and immediacy to the work that some other books perhaps lack.

The Happy Manifesto is a very practical book, each section containing a series of helpful double questions, many challenging, and all of them crucial to any leader seeking to aspire to the subtitle of this important book. For example, "Is your first reaction to a problem with any of your people to believe the best of them and work from that belief? Are your systems and processes based on the assumption that people are seeking to do a great job?" And, finally, "How much more productive could your organisation be if it was a truly great workplace? What are your first steps to getting there?

In reading The Happy Manifesto I was constantly reminded of one of Happy's core principles: People work best when they feel good about themselves. I felt good reading this book: you will too!

John Noble

You Can Move the Cheese!
The Role of an Effective Servant-Leader

Stephen Prosser, Paulist Press, 2010

You can move the cheese, by Stephen Prosser - book coverThis is a book about change and, more importantly, about the changes that we as individuals can make. Stephen Prosser has taken Spencer Johnson’s book Who Moved the Cheese? and built on its message to show us what we can do to thrive on change. First, though, an acknowledgement. Stephen was a much loved colleague and contributor to the Greenleaf Centre for Servant-Leadership UK, and his untimely death robbed us all of a profound thinker and contributor to leadership and life. This book was his last and shows how much he had to offer.

The book is in three parts. In the first part Stephen summarises his survey of over six hundred companies and analyses four types of companies in terms of how they value their employees. In itself this is a remarkable piece of research. Out of this came key people propositions and finally in this section examples of how we can all make a meaningful difference at work. The book is worth reading just for this part. The People Propositions come from reality and are backed up by research and offer essential guidelines for all companies who want to be successful.
These propositions are:

  1. A Genuine Belief in Their People
  2. A Work Environment that Promotes Family and Fun and Celebrates Success
  3. An Emphasis On Fundamental Principles and Values
  4. An Enlightened Set of Human Resource Policies
  5. A Commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility and Charitable Work

What’s more, Stephen offers practical examples of how individuals and organisations can make these propositions a reality!

The second section looks at four types of leaders and their complementary styles.
The four styles are:

  1. The Purposeful Leader
  2. The Principled Leader
  3. The Resolute Leader
  4. The Exemplary Leader

For each style Stephen looks at their actions and characteristics and illustrates their differences with stories and rare insights. For example, you will never use the phrase “getting rid of the deadwood” (a demeaning and insulting phrase anyway) after reading Stephen’s comments on the importance of deadwood in forest ecology. Forests where deadwood is left are far more healthy and thrive much better, and are more productive than those where deadwood is cleared!!

The last chapter asks us to become purposeful, principled, resourceful and exemplary leaders. To quote “To become the sort of person who serves a greater and higher purpose, who lives and leads by deeply held principles, who acts effectively in their company, who influences things for good, who may work silently and without visible praise but who gets the right things done.”

This may seem a difficult journey, but if you read Stephen’s book you, too, can become convinced that you can help to move the cheese and improve life for all.

To sum up - a brilliant and deeply insightful book combined with practical ideas that will benefit all who read it.

Ralph Lewis

Servant-Leadership: Bringing the Spirit of Work to Work

Edited by Ralph Lewis and John Noble of The Greenleaf Centre for Servant-Leadership UK

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Servant-Leadership: Bringing the Spirit of Work to Work"It's a cracking good read, and everyone should enjoy it." So said one of the people who has read this book: a biased opinion perhaps, but right on the mark all the same!

Servant-Leadership: Bringing the Spirit of Work to Work is an easily accessible introduction to servant-leadership: what it is, what it means for servant-leaders (wherever they may sit in their organisation), how it was first expressed, and - crucially - how it actually works in real organisations. Whether or not you are already familiar with servant-leadership, and wherever you are in a work-place 'hierarchy', if you would like it to be a happier, healthier, organisation, try this book.

Edited by Ralph Lewis and John Noble of The Greenleaf Centre for Servant-Leadership UK, the book brings together contributions from thirteen servant-leadership practitioners from the UK, Europe, South Africa and America.

There is an interview with George SanFacon, a conversation with James Autry, and several essays by people working in a variety of places including: publishing, a law firm, hotels, local government, a computer and management training company, pensions and housing. They describe with great honesty the journey to introduce servant-leadership into their workplaces, failures as well as successes. What shines through the whole book is their faith in the people with and for whom they work.

All the contributors speak from personal experience and in their own voices, and in a range of styles, which means there is something to suit all tastes.

Margaret Wheatley, one of the most inspirational of servant-leadership practitioners, has written about how fear of what may happen if people are allowed to express their visions, act spontaneously, or simply contribute their ideas in discussion, is crippling organisations.

In hard times like the present, this readable, inspirational and yet realistic book, could well provide the help we all need, more than ever, to benefit from the creativity which arises from just listening to one another.

As the Introduction says: Servant-leadership is not a set of techniques or guidelines to improve productivity or even to make people's working lives better. It is something you do because you believe it is right. Now, there is lots of evidence to suggest that the bottom line is improved and people are happier and more engaged, but again that is not the reason for servant-leadership. You do it because it is the natural thing to do.

Paula Harvey