As a leader, how well have you served others? Serving others requires you to be daring, but not in the ways you might imagine. You probably won’t need to bungee jump off a bridge, or engage in some sort of epic battle. But you will need the courage step out of the spotlight, admit your mistakes, and focus instead on serving those you lead.
That’s the key message of Cheryl Bachelder’s new book, Dare to Serve: How to Drive Superior Results by Serving Others. Of course, the notion of “servant leadership” isn’t new. Robert Greenleaf put forth the idea of “one who leads by putting the ideas of others first” in his book Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness over 30 years ago, and Bachelder gives ample credit to Greenleaf for his ideas. Here’s how Bachelder makes this concept fresh: she gives us an insider’s look at how she, as a newly hired CEO, used servant leadership as the foundational element of her company’s successful turnaround.
Cheryl Bachelder is the CEO of Popeye’s® Louisiana Kitchen. In 2007, she was hired to repair declining sales, horrible customer service, and frayed relationships with franchise owners. The book is divided into two sections: Part I chronicles, in great detail, the struggles, set-backs, and ultimately, triumphs that the Popeye’s organization went through. With unflinching honesty, Bachelder describes exactly how she and her management team worked with franchise owners, store management and employees to uncover their biggest problems and set about resolving them. In Part II, “How to become a Dare to Serve Leader”, she blends personal anecdotes with specific examples of how leaders can transform themselves into daring servant leaders.
Although the book is written by a company CEO, Bachelder is quick to point out that the lessons described in her book apply to “ordinary people who want to do extraordinary things wherever they are given the opportunity to lead—at work, at home or in the community.” She frames up the book’s premise in this way: a Dare-to-Serve Leader must have seemingly opposing traits, possessing “courage enough to take the people to a daring destination, yet humble enough to serve others on the journey.”
One of the things I most appreciated about this book is Bachelder’s willingness to take an honest look at her flaws (even talented CEOs have them!) and describe how, earlier in her career, she was focused on achievement based on only her personal goals. When she repositioned the way she saw leadership—as an opportunity to serve others—she was able to achieve results in a different way. This humble stance makes the advice in the book seem accessible. Indeed, humility is a strong theme in the book, appearing again and again throughout the pages. She offers this important distinction about humility: “Humility is not being a doormat, it is simply thinking less about our own needs—and more about the needs of others.” Bachelder says this shift in focus allows us to “exit [the leadership] spotlight” and instead shine the lights on other’s contributions.
One of the book’s unique features is the 40 “Dare to Serve Reflections’ interspersed throughout the pages. These questions (such as, “How do you and your team model humility in your daily actions?”) offer the reader opportunity to consider the concepts being put forth and apply them to their specific leadership situation.
If you are in a leadership situation that requires a change in direction, Cheryl Bachelder’s “Dare to Serve” provides a useful template for how to proceed. Even if you believe you already have a “servant” mindset, you might consider picking up a copy of this book, because this in-depth treatment of the topic is sure to offer new insights.
Learn more about the book “Dare to Serve” and download a free sample chapter here.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for the purpose of writing this review. Also, some of the links are affiliate links, meaning if you click the link and make a purchase, I may receive compensation. This doesn’t increase the price of your item and I only review books that I believe my readers will benefit from.