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Executive Director's Message - Servant Leadership is Key

by Stephen J. Gehlert, Executive Director

As we begin a new year, it is a great time to reflect on the accomplishments of the past and to prepare a plan for continued success in the future.

In a business sense, this is true both for your funeral home operation and for OFDA. I believe it is of utmost importance for all of us to constantly remember that success in the past does not always equal success in the future, if we fail to adapt to changing consumer preferences, business strategies, etc.

One way for any business to remain a leader and achieve growth is to hire, train and nurture excellent employees. In his book, God is My CEO, Larry Julian discusses various ways we can achieve maximum employee contribution to our mission and purpose by developing a Servant Leadership Style of Management.

A Servant Leader is guided by three basic principles:

1. Leadership by Example
2. Respect and
3. Compassion

I truly believe we all illustrate these principles to the families we serve, so why not show the same respect for our employees.

To illustrate a company that lives this principle, Horst Schulze, CEO of the Ritz Carlton Hotel Company says their success is based on weaving the values of respect, caring, trust, fairness and teamwork into the fabric of his organization. He also states that success at the Ritz is measured by employee retention, customer satisfaction and profitability. In other words, taking care of employees by valuing their contributions, treating them with respect and nurturing their development will lead to profitability as well as create an environment rich in cooperation and high morale.

Servant Leadership is the key to attracting, retaining and motivating good employees. As Larry Julian points out in his book, "Serving the Servant" will help your employees and your organization succeed.

Wishing you continued success in 2005!

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