Three things impressed me when Mark Deterding and I had our first discussions about the book that became Leading Jesus’ Way: Become the Servant Leader God Created You to Be. First, Mark had a successful career in business and poured what he learned into the book. Second, Mark road-tested the material for five years in his Leadership Roundtable training programs. And third, Mark wrote a practical book about how to do servant leadership, not just understand the theory.
The book grew out of Mark’s life and faith
Mark had a successful 30-year career in the printing business. He was known for his ability to develop purpose-driven, values-based teams that were profitable, productive, and great places to work. Toward the end of his career he was responsible for a staff of ten general managers with indirect responsibility for more than 3000 employees.
Mark started doing serious Bible study in his teens. He is a thoughtful Christian. As his leadership skills developed, he also began to look at the Bible and Jesus’ life through a leadership lens. The result is a book by a business leader that is both practical and faith-based.
In 2010, Mark led the first session of his Leadership Roundtable. The goal of the program was simple: teach people how to “step into” servant leadership. The program was also an experiment. It was the first prototype of Mark’s process of teaching servant leadership.
Mark refined the program over the next four years. Feedback from program participants and their experience putting the lessons to work helped him put what had worked for him for thirty years into a form where other people could use it. The result is a book filled with ideas and techniques that have worked for other people.
A practical book
Leading Jesus’ Way is not about servant leadership theory. That only feeds your head. It doesn’t make any difference in the way you lead or the way you live. Mark put it this way in a recent blog post.
“It’s not like studying history to simply learn facts. It’s more like learning to swim or ride a bike – it is an applied discipline. You have to do it to learn it.”
There’s one more thing. People who have put in the effort to learn to do servant leadership report some wonderful outcomes. There are work outcomes where servant leadership can result in teams with high productivity and high morale. But there are also results that spread outward from the servant leader to the people around him or her.
If you want to improve the results and working environment for your team, buy Leading Jesus Way. Then work your way through it. Becoming a servant leader won’t happen overnight and it won’t always be easy, but the results for you and your team and those around you are worth the effort.
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