Posted by: Brandon W. Jones | April 11, 2010

Article Review: New Wine, Old Bottles

In this article, Stephen R. Covey described three steps that must be taken for a leader to go from an authoritarian leader to a servant leader. First I will show the three steps and then I will explain my feelings about each step.

The three steps are:
1. Build a new relationship – go from a vertical relationship to a horizontal one.
2. Create a new psychological contract or performance agreement – be upfront with all expectations especially in the five areas mentioned.
3. With the transfer of power and responsibility for results, the leader becomes the servant and a source of help
In the article, Covey presented the different steps, but he didn’t give specific techniques for applying the steps. I will attempt to explain how to apply the three principles.

Step 1: Build a new relationship
This is a very valuable leadership technique. In the article, Covey presented the idea of going from a vertical to a horizontal relationship. I would like to suggest a few ways of applying this technique. First, it is very important to explain to the employees the roles of the leader as more of a guide and less of a judge. In explaining this role, it is essential to explain that there are certain consequences for specific behaviors. Once the followers understand that their leader is a guide to help them get to where they are going, they will trust them more and they will ask for feedback. If the follower thinks the leader is a judge, they will go to others to get help. They will not use the leader effectively. Because this is a change in the normal thinking, the leader must actively express their willingness to guide and they must be available. The only aspect in which the leader needs to be the judge, is when there are specific actions that must be done and the follower isn’t following them.

Step 2: Create a new psychological contract or performance agreement
Covey explained that the leader and the follower must set up a specific performance contract. This is a good philosophy. My suggestions for applying this would be for the leader to communicate with the follower the specific expectations. This can be done in a one-on-one personal setting or in through written communication. The best way would be to start with some written communication and then have a sit down meeting. In the sit down meeting, the leader and the follower can review the expectations and see how the follower can live up to the expectations.

Step 3: The transfer of power and responsibility for results
Covey gave a fairly good explanation on how this principle can be applied. It is important for the leader to express their trust in the follower. Once the follower understands they have gained the trust of the leader, they can work much more effectively. They will go to the leader when they need suggestions, but they will have the confidence to work independently.


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