What is Servant leadership?
As I read and study more about leadership and as I reflect on my past experiences in leadership roles, I become more enthusiastic about becoming a leader in a school environment and putting all these new theories into practice. My definition of leadership has evolved these past four weeks and I am now ready to have a new and improved definition of how I see leadership and what leadership is to me.
I really think and believe that leadership is not appointed to someone by someone based on some qualities.
Leadership is earned.
One earns the respect, admiration and trust from a group of people who become your followers. A person that is trusted, liked, admired and a servant to others is a true leader. The leader has earned that admiration and trust not only by communicating but mainly by listening.
By listening the leader becomes aware of the needs of the individuals and the organization. A leader is then able to transform these needs into a vision. A leader listens carefully to the needs of the organization, the needs of all the stakeholders and then leads her/his followers to attain high goals, similar of how a conductor gets his musicians to play beautiful music.
A leader is fully aware of the culture, the environment and the world around her or him. She or he will make key decisions that will move the organization, the team and the culture in the right direction.
Leaders can also lead managers, because they were probably a manager before becoming a leader. A manager will not be a manager for very long and will get ousted if she or he does not have some qualities of a leader. There is a very fine line between managing and leading. In fact a good leader will have to be a good manager in certain situations.
Leaders are visionaires, they can transform what they listen into action plans and they are able to work with and collaborate with a team that is very willing to follow them. Finally a leader is formed not born. A leader is formed by many years of serving people, learning from them, studying about them and reflecting about what is right and what is wrong.
There is literature that supports my thinking and views about leadership.
Robert K. Greenleaf (1991. 2002) in his book Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness, states that “a new moral principle is emerging which holds that the only authority deserving one’s allegiance is that one that is given by the led in response to the evident servant nature of the leader. He goes on to predict that the only institutions that will be viable in the future will be servant led”.
Servant leadership is one of my areas of interest and I realize there is a huge amount of literature available that I would like to continue to research and study.
To practice servant leadership is also another area that I am interested in following and practicing. As I reflect on my past experiences I can see that I have practiced servant leadership before and it has worked out that I ended up being a leader that many were following. A specific example is when I volunteered to host 35 young musicians from Colombia, South America.
These group of young men and women with ages ranging from 14 to 24 was able to come to Frisco Texas to perform in front of schools, churches and Texas Christian University because I facilitated and enjoyed seeing them experience life in the United States. Reflecting back on my experience these young people followed me to lead them into their new experience by trusting completely on my ability to bring them in front of good audiences. I also become a leader of the 11 families that hosted these 35 young people. These families had to trust me and believe in me that the young people who were staying at their homes were of good moral character and were truly only interested in playing music, performing and getting to know the United States and our culture.
Prof. Carlos Roncal