Get Your Hands Dirty. Leaders Serve.

This is the second in a mini-series using quotes from Alan Hassenfeld, former CEO of Hasbro, who was a guest speaker at Brandeis International Business School.

“Never ask your people to do something you wouldn’t” – Alan Hassenfeld

I have worked long enough now to have heard time and time again employees whining about managers, directors, owners, CEOs of businesses who have “no ideas what it’s like on the shop floor.”  True, many people in seniority in business haven’t done much time in the menial tasks that make a business run.  However, there are many who have worked their way up through the ranks and bring to the board an incredible amount of knowledge and experience that is invaluable and, often, irreplaceable.

One example of this is Lord Sugar, owner of Amshold Group Ltd.  In his book “What you see is what you get“, Lord Sugar details how he would work on the shop floor, getting to know the staff, building electrical components, and showing his staff that he was another one of the team.  These times were invaluable to Lord Sugar.  He knew:

  • who the good employees were, and who were trying it on
  • how a part worked and how it fitted into the finished product
  • how to build components so when he met with suppliers and manufacturers he knew how much each unit cost to put together and which supplier was not being totally honest in negotiations

A good leader:

  • is prepared to get his hands dirty.
  • is prepared to meet people where they are, to come down to them, to build trust.
  • knows his business.
  • knows his strengths and weaknesses.
  • finds people to join him in his team who are strong where he, the leader, is weak.

We read often of managers going back to the shop floor, to re-acquaint themselves with the customer.  A great leader will go one better; he will serve his team, his customer, his business.  In the serving he may well find meaning and purpose which makes the leading all worth while.

Do you know of any successful leaders, or mentors, who are a good example of the servant leader?

What do you think about the notion that a good leader has weaknesses?

Thank you for taking the time to visit me here.  I appreciate any feedback that you care to give. Please add a comment to introduce yourself, or add value to what I have written in this post.  Kate.

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About katehobbs

Mother to two who are now independant and living away from home. Wife to Steve, for the last 26yrs and looking forward to many more years. I have enjoyed 18 months in the Okanagan, something that I have longed to have the opportunity to do for a while. Living a dream, you could say. Now, I am interning with Living Waters Canada based in Vancouver until end of April 2013. I love to grow my own food - it tastes so much better. I also build up, train and encourage others to achieve more than they thought possible.
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2 Responses to Get Your Hands Dirty. Leaders Serve.

  1. Thanks Kate. Your message is right on. Lack of trust and scrutiny of management is big now given the economy. It is nice that you remind leaders about servant leadership and what they need to do to be a good leader. Very insightful!

    Thank you,
    Patricia Knight

    • katehobbs says:

      Hi Patricia
      Thank you for taking the time to comment. I have had a quick look at your blog posts and feel that there will be a lot that I can learn from you.

      All the very best to you.

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