The following article was written by Scott Hill of Varnum LLP.
Through my work as a corporate attorney, I’ve had the opportunity to observe many beautiful businesses on a regular basis. And while there are shared strengths across successful companies such as weathering storms of surprise in regards to sales cycles, supply chain external forces, and shifts in talent, I am often most struck by the prevalence of the servant leadership model at the highest levels of these businesses.
Servant leadership, a philosophy in which the main goal of the leader is to serve, differs drastically from the traditional leadership model where the leader’s main focus is the thriving of their company or organization. Robert Greenleaf (who most attribute to coining the term “servant leader”) noted in 1977 that the authentic nature of a servant leader enables them to accept people as they are, fostering an environment of creativity and risk-taking without the fear of ridicule from (gasp) one’s parents or relatives. In my mind, this type of leadership style could be compared to the Elmer’s Glue from an elementary level art project – unrefined and messy at times – but, serves to hold things together and provide a platform for growth and success in the learning years to come.
My belief is that servant leadership is instrumental for business sustainability and that we see it more commonly in the family business construct due to the bonds that familial relationships bring prior to involvement in a business. In turn, these bonds help to build foundations of service to one another. So when family businesses find themselves at generational crossroads, I posit that despite Millennials’ mixed reputation, the servant leader model is of tremendous importance to imprint on this next generation and can act as a meaningful measuring stick for long-term business success.
Mike Novakoski, the featured speaker at the Family Business Alliance’s February meeting, knows quite a bit about leadership, how people interface well with one another, how to challenge people, and how to grow. Mike’s teachings (through public speaking and his and John Parker’s book Unmistakable) surrounding right-brain thinking augmenting left-brain leaders and how he shares the journey of his team at Elzinga & Volkers is worth paying attention to. Varnum is pleased to be the sponsor for this FBA event titled Leading the Business as we’re excited to sharpen our minds on the topics Mike will be discussing. I hope you will join us and learn from his teachings. You won’t be disappointed and I look forward to seeing you at the event.
333 Bridge St NW #1700
Grand Rapids, MI 49501