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Phil learns to serve rather than be served!

Phil learns to serve rather than be served! Phil swaggered into my office, sank into the back of the chair that I offered - and swiftly folded his arms. Without saying anything, Phil simply looked at me with his left eyebrow raised.

His defensive body language made it clear that he was not looking forward to our session and I recalled that it had been his boss who - concerned that his newly appointed manager was causing waves in the office - had made the appointment for Phil.

Phil was new to the role of management - and I was beginning to get the impression that the problems in the office were due to his "throwing his weight about".

Gently, I asked Phil how he was enjoying his new job. "Yeah, it's great. I always knew I'd make it to manager level, as I'm very ambitious. And as I see it, this is just the first rung - I intend to make it all the way to the top of the ladder!"

Proud of the fact that he was the youngest manager in the company, Phil also felt that he had a lot to prove. In a bid to ensure that he had the right skills, he had invested both time and money in various management strategy books - however, when I asked him about the "softer" skills of leadership, he simply shrugged his shoulders.

"All of that stuff is just baloney. What really matters is that an organisation has a clear plan of action, a clear chain of command and a clear set of rules of engagement."

I pointed out to Phil that his language sounded almost military in style - and asked him if he felt that being in management was simply dealing with one "skirmish" after another.

"I guess that pretty well sums it up," he said. "Sometimes I think I should have a flak jacket! To be honest, the people I manage aren't awfully good at taking orders - and if we are going to hit our sales target, then sometimes I have to pull rank on them to ensure that the job gets done."

Not surprisingly, it turned out that Phil's father had been in the Army - and from our discussion, it appeared that Phil's home life as a child had reflected his father's career.

"Dad never allowed us to have our say," said Phil, "We were just expected to follow orders. I guess that's the only way I know - and frankly, I can't say that it's harmed me."

"No," I said, "But it's in danger of harming your career. Most people have not had the same kind of childhood experiences as you - and will not welcome your dictatorial style. The people who work for you expect to be led - not bullied."

Phil flushed red - and then went white at my words. But I pressed on regardless, knowing that if he was to succeed in the future, Phil had to understand now that he needed to adopt a different management style.

I explained that if Phil wanted to earn respect as a manager - and indeed earn promotion in the future - then he needed to learn to respect his staff first.

"Poor leaders expect to be served and demand respect," I said. "But great leaders expect to serve - and earn respect."

Phil listened to my words and didn't speak for several moments while he allowed them to sink in, eventually saying: "You're right, I'm beginning to see why my staff have been behaving the way they have. I guess if I change, then they'll change."

I simply nodded my head in agreement.

About the Author:

Olivia Stefanino is a leadership consultant, speaker and author of the internationally acclaimed management book, "Be Your Own Guru". Interviewed on more than 25 radio stations and featured in "The Guardian", "Natural Health" & "Red", Olivia is a guest columnist for a number of national and international publications. Download your fr*ee e-booklet, "128 ways to harness your personal power!" by visiting www.beyourownguru.com

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