Servant Leadership – Amanda Coffey

Turn the Power Pyramid Upside Down

By: Amanda Coffey of Coffey & Peace


This summer I attended the State Bar of Texas Bar Leaders Conference and had the privilege to hear Vicki Clark speak on the merits of Servant Leadership.  Servant Leadership works by inverting the power pyramid; the leader exists first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served.


-Self-Awareness:  Servant Leadership requires an initial investment in self-awareness.  This requires some honest reflection on your own current management style, and recognizing that your daily interactions have a significant impact on those around you.

– Listening: You must shift your focus to listening first.  By listening, Servant Leaders are better able to identify the needs of their team.

-Create a culture of collaboration:  One of the biggest obstacles to listening is the traditional organizational hierarchy—the pyramid. A team that is too busy looking up, primarily concerned with pleasing that hierarchy, is not focusing that energy on client service. By inverting the pyramid, everyone in the firm is focused on the people whom our firms are designed to serve: our clients.

-Developing your colleagues: Work exists for the person as much as the person exists for the work. Put another way, our firms exist as much to provide meaningful work for the members of our teams as they exist to provide a service to our clients.

-Coaching, not Controlling: Servant Leaders engage, inspire, coach, and mentor.

Rejecting the traditional top-down pyramid hierarchy in favor of a Servant Leadership attitude may initially feel counter-intuitive or even threating to the leader.  However, the long-term benefits of having a fulfilled team, who genuinely feel appreciated, respected and valued, will reap massive benefits to you, your firm and your clientele. Serve first.