‘Serve to Be Great,’ Author Urges

Having happy employees improves performance, products, and service.

November 11, 2014

Matt Tenney 02

Helping others can transform both your personal and professional life, leadership expert/author Matt Tenney told attendees of CUNA’s Community Credit Union & Growth Conference in Las Vegas last week.

Tenney’s personal shift toward helping others took him from prisoner to monk (which you can read about in his book “Serve to Be Great: Leadership Lessons from a Prison, a Monastery, and a Boardroom”), and it changed his life.

“The more I focused on how to serve others, the happier I became and the more success I had,” Tenney said.

That approach works not only in your personal life but in business too, he said. It’s known as “servant leadership,” and it is paying dividends for many successful companies.

The reason: Having happy and engaged employees leads to better performance, products, and customer service.

Tenney cited several ways high-performing companies practice servant leadership to better their employees and, ultimately, their businesses:

 Create a safe environment, where leaders would forgo profits for a time rather than lay-off staff. This creates a culture where employees are willing to take more calculated risks and innovate faster.

• Provide opportunities for inspiration, such as offering paid leave each year to allow employees to work on a cause they care about. When the employees come back to work, they’re energized.

 Improve work-life balance by helping employees with nonwork tasks to give them more free time. “Employees who are happier in their own lives are happier at work,” Tenney said.

• Recognize the best servants, not the top salespeople. This develops a culture of “we” not “me.”

“If business leaders make serving and caring for the people on their teams and the communities around them a higher priority than quarterly profits or other numbers, they will have better success over the long-term,” Tenney said.

And, he said, they will have happier, more meaningful personal lives, too.

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