The Secret of Teams | Mark Miller

Summary of: The Secret of Teams: What Great Teams Know and Do
By: Mark Miller


Dive into the world of leadership and teamwork with Mark Miller’s book, ‘The Secret of Teams: What Great Teams Know and Do’. The book follows Debbie Brewster, a corporate manager, as she navigates the challenges of her failing department. Through a unique mentoring relationship with the company’s president, Jeff, Debbie learns and applies the SERVE model of leadership. This model emphasizes the importance of a servant mentality, valuing relationships and results, and continuously reinventing oneself, leading to personal growth and a transformation of Debbie’s team. In this summary, you will discover the key elements of the SERVE model and how these principles can revolutionize your own leadership journey and team performance.

The Power of Mentorship

Debbie, struggling as the director of corporate client services, sought refuge in the library to ponder her situation. The librarian asked how she could help, and when Debbie confessed her concerns, the librarian suggested looking into a mentorship program. Debbie took note of the librarian’s advice and returned to work, signing up for the program. This instance exemplifies the tremendous force of mentorship in shaping leaders. As the librarian said, “Everything that you will accomplish as a leader ultimately hinges on the people around you.” Debbie’s story highlights how seeking guidance from mentors can help individuals refine their leadership abilities and achieve success. Great leaders do not happen overnight but with the right guidance can become prosperous in the long term.

A Chance Encounter with the Company President

Debbie was shocked to find out that Jeff Brown, the company’s new president, would be her mentor in the mentoring program. When the day of their first meeting arrived, Jeff introduced himself and asked Debbie to share her story. Debbie asked the thought-provoking question, “What is the secret of great leaders?” Jeff appreciated the question and promised to discuss it with her at their next meeting. Debbie was amazed by Jeff’s willingness to serve her and the lengths he went to accommodate her schedule. Jeff’s approach of serving the mentees instead of self-serving leadership was evident.

The SERVE Model of Leadership

Debbie learns from Jeff the SERVE model, which states that great leaders have servant hearts and serve their firms and people in five ways. The top of the leadership iceberg represents skills, while character is the essence of a leader. Debbie discovers strategic ways to serve her employees by listening and helping them, leading to a conversation with Jeff about the SERVE model.

Leadership and the SERVE model

Great leaders use the SERVE model, which stands for Seeing Ahead, solid Values, motivating with a sense of direction, and execution. They face the Heads Up vs. Heads Down challenge by planning for the future while handling daily activities. It is a leader’s responsibility to delegate tasks and make time to think ahead. Debbie, a mentee, learns the importance of teamwork and delegation through Jeff’s mentorship and is inspired to focus on mapping out goals. Jeff’s pivotal elements of future success are to put customers first, serve others, practice stewardship, and cultivate creativity. A person can serve without leading, but a leader can’t lead well without serving.

The Power of Engagement in Leadership

Debbie’s business unit began to thrive when she incorporated Jeff’s leadership teachings. According to Jeff, a leader’s objective is to engage and develop their employees’ strengths. This involves hiring the best candidates, getting to know them thoroughly, and developing their skills through training and mentoring. Jeff emphasized that financial rewards are a byproduct of a job well done. Debbie followed Jeff’s advice and sought out good candidates, like Jill, a librarian. After nurturing their relationship, Debbie invited Jill to join her team, and she quickly made a strong contribution. By engaging with her staff and focusing on their strengths, Debbie improved morale, productivity, and profitability.

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