What Jesus, Jim Collins, and Patrick Lencionio Understand About Janitorial Leadership

Finding and keeping quality people is probably the biggest challenge we face as owners or leaders in the BSC industry. Additionally, filling our team with quality individuals is the key to our success or failure. As Peter Drucker said: “…the only thing that differentiates one business from another in any given field is the quality of its management on all levels.” Drucker states what we all know to be true, our business rises or falls on the quality of our people, particularly at the management level. But what makes a good manager? What particular trait or traits make up the ideal team player?

Patrick Lencioni argues in his book, The Ideal Team Player, that great employees generally have three key characteristics. They are humble, hungry, and people smart. I want to zoom in on this first quality, as I think it is the most essential for our industry.

I was recently reading in the gospel of Luke when I came across a passage I’d read many times. In Luke 9:46-49, the disciples are arguing with one another about who was the greatest among them. Pride, ego, and jockeying for power was as true 2,000 years ago as it is today, especially in business. Jesus, knowing their hearts, took a child and placed him on his lap and said the following: “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”

Turning our traditional assumption on its head, Jesus makes the bold claim that greatness is found in humility. In another passage he claims that the first will be last and the last first. While this may rub us the wrong way, we also intuitively see the truth of this saying. Greatness is found not in position, but in humility and service to others. Why are Jesus, Mother Theresa, and other humble servants so esteemed whereas the most powerful of world leaders like Napoleon and Alexander the Great are not models of inspiration? Simple put, humility.

C.S. Lewis once quipped, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” In the service industry, we need a team of people putting others before self. We need others-focused attitudes and actions. We need confident people who aren’t seeking fame, glory, and fortune, but rather the good of others. As Jim Collins pointed out in Good To Great, such humble leaders are typically the ones who rise to greatness and lead great companies. The irony is those individuals don’t view themselves as great. By choosing to serve, they make themselves great. Their perpetual humility is the fuel that propels their leadership ascent; whereas pride comes before a fall.

In your company, look for humble leaders, model humble leadership, and foster a culture of humility. Don’t be afraid to appear weak, for humility is actually an incredible strength and firm foundation for leadership.


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