Zing Train

Last Month, Hilary Gessner, Lee Michaels, Todd Brannock, and I attended a Zingerman’s seminar on Servant Leadership. The two day seminar was packed full of information on:

  • Zingerman’s History and Vision

  • Effective Feedback

  • Stewardship

  • Bottom-Line Change

  • Stages of Organizational Growth

  • Personal Visioning

As they all relate to servant Leadership. So what is a Servant Leader? A participant at my table summed it up in a great way “A Servant Leader believes she is a resource for her team, not that her team is a resource for her.” It’s also important to note that anyone can be a Servant Leader, they do not have to lead a team or have the word “Manager” in their job title. The qualities of a Servant Leader can be shown in any interaction whether it is part of your normal work flow or even outside of the office. Overwhelmingly, when anyone at Zingerman’s was asked “what can I start doing right now to become more of a Servant Leader?” we were told to say thanks and show gratitude. It only takes a second, it’s free, and anyone can do it. In the Tamarack offices, we always end our daily huddle with Kudos, which can be for anyone, the person does not have to be present at the huddle nor on our team of nine.

I created a “Nuggets of Knowledge Board” to share some of what we have learned with everyone at Tamarack. It’s first edition started with the basics, the responsibilities of a Servant Leader and the Zingerman’s Training Compact.

The most interesting piece and largest take home for me was responsibility number one: Provide Vision. We talked a bit about visioning on day one but on the second day, we spent a long time talking about our personal visions which should answer the question “What do I want to create?”. It’s important to know what your vision for yourself is and if your manager knows as well, he/she can do everything they can to make that vision a reality. I’d encourage anyone to take 20 minutes of time to write, and keep writing, about what your vision for yourself is. When the facilitators told us “you might be surprised by what you right” I was not a believer. I felt pretty sure of what I saw for myself. However, once you’re writing, and the key is not taking your pen off of the paper, something shifts and you’re not editing or screening what comes out. Sounds like a bunch of oobly woobly? Perhaps, but all the more reason to prove me wrong. Stay tuned for the next Nuggets of Knowledge update that will start talking about visioning.

I’ve also embraced Zingerman’s recipe for Bottom-Line Change and have already used some of it when presenting ideas in the office but that one might require a post of its own. If you would like to learn more about Servant Leadership or simply join the discussion, I encourage you to talk to any of the four of us who attended the seminar.

Additionally, as part of our visit to Ann Arbor, we had the opportunity to tour the Zingerman’s Mail Order facility - click HERE to learn more about this highly successful operation.

- Colleen Valko, Strategy Manager