If you’ve listened to Seeking Wisdom (podcast) or known me for a while, you’ve likely heard me talk about servant leadership. But as Drift grows, I think it’s important to look back at the philosophies we’ve followed since the very beginning.
I stumbled upon the idea of servant leadership years ago, when I first read Sam Walton’s book Made in America. In that book, Sam Walton (who founded Walmart) said that his job was to serve the associates of his stores. It really struck me.
But I’ll admit. I put this idea to the side and I did what all of us do. I followed conventional wisdom, went the opposite of servant leadership and did that for a number of years. But if you follow conventional wisdom when building companies, it leads to a mediocre company. So I came back to revisit the topic — and have tried to lead this way ever since.
With servant leadership, the traditional structure of companies — in which the CEO is at the top of the pyramid and individual contributors are on the bottom (there to support the higher levels) — is flipped on its head.
In the Drift version, the customers are on the top — and the most important thing on the pyramid. The second tier then has individual contributors and you keep going down until you eventually get to the CEO. The idea is that the higher your title, the more your job is to support those above you.
Which means my job at Drift is to serve our customers and the rest of the team.
And I think that if the entire team thinks this way — if we support each other and our customers, we will continue to build amazing company.
P.S. If you are interested in learning more about servant leadership, I encourage you to read Made in America. Harvard Business Review also has a great article about this.