Yakima County Development Association - Servant Leadership Taking Hold At Local Companies

David McFadden

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David McFadden

Jean publishes a blog called the Enterprise Corner.  It features articles on entrepreneurship, local industry trends, manufacturing news and periodic ‘toolbox’ articles showcasing assistance, incentives and other resources for local businesses.

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Servant Leadership Taking Hold At Local Companies

Servant Leadership Taking Hold At Local Companies

October 29, 2014

Servant Leadership:  first it was Paragon Films, then it was Michelsen Packaging, and more recently it's Wilbur Precast.  We discovered that these local companies are all working to instill servant leadership at their facilities. The concept is timeless - as Jesus Christ is typically cited as the original servant leader.  You don't have to be a churchgoer though to instill this effective management philosophy within your business or organization.

Robert Greenleaf really founded the modern concept of servant leadership (SL) - he describes it as a practice that focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong.  A servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.  Companies like REI, Starbucks, Whole Foods and Nordstrom’s openly promote and embrace Servant Leadership and consistently show up among the Best Companies to Work For.     

alt textAlex Jech of Paragon Films began using SL a couple of years ago and describes it as “the right thing to do”.  He believes that the model of using leadership rather than authority creates a great culture and is quick to quantify the results with improvements in morale and productivity.

Mike Dooley is a disciple of servant leadership at Wilbur Precast.  He first learned about the concept in college and was subsequently introduced to the management philosophy by Dan Houk, owner of Wilbur Precast.  For Mike its all about helping his employees be successful.  By empowering his workforce Mike gains loyalty which translates into a more effective organization.  For Dooley servant leadership is more than just helping employees on the job - he often reaches out to help them in personal situations realizing that life issues can definitely impact work performance.  SL is not for everyone though.  Mike says you have to have a passion for service if you want to become an effective manager using these principles. 

After talking with Mike and Alex I see paralells with lean manufacturing disciplines.  Lean's emphasis on empowering employees seems to go hand in hand with the servant leadership philosophy.  I'm now curious to discover if companies are blending lean and SL effectively. 

On November 20th we have local expert Mike Perri joining us at our Industry Roundtable meeting to talk more about servant leadership.  Mike shared these ten service leadership principles from the Greenleaf Institute.  Click here to register for this event.


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"New Vision was instrumental in obtaining a large state workforce training grant that has been used for assistance and training of employees at all levels of our company. The training has been extremely beneficial as our company expands." - Jim Richmond, CubCrafters