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Easter season lessons in servant leadership | Local Business

As I write this column my mind is pondering the parallels between Christian lessons from the Easter season and my business school’s lessons on servant leadership.

The servant leadership philosophy flips the organizational chart upside down, placing the leader at the bottom who serves successive layers of employees all the way up to those at the top who are serving the customer.

Today’s Servant leadership concepts started with a Robert Greenleaf publication “The Servant as Leader” in 1970 and has since been the mantra of authors such as Stephen Covey, Peter Block, Peter Senge, Max De Pree, Margaret Wheatley, Ken Blanchard, and others.

A true servant leader is a steward of the organization’s resources (human, financial and otherwise) and serves others while staying focused on achieving results in line with the organization’s values ​​and integrity.

Servant leadership, unlike leadership approaches with a top-down hierarchical style, emphasizes collaboration, trust, empathy, and the ethical use of power. This kind of leader is a servant first, making the conscious decision to lead in order to better serve others, not to increase his or her own power.

The objective is to enhance the growth of individuals in the organization and increase teamwork and personal involvement.

Greenleaf writes that the 10 characteristics of a servant leader are listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of others, and building community.

I wonder what kind of grade you and I would get if those we supposedly lead gave us one (low) to 10 (high) points for our execution of each characteristic?

While the roots of servant leadership in the west date back 20 centuries (we will eventually get back to the Easter connection), in approximately 600 BC, the Chinese sage Lao Tzu wrote The Tao Te Ching, a strategic treatise on servant leadership:

“The greatest leader forgets herself

And attends to the development of others. ”

Think about the servant leadership principles taught to us by Christ from the very first Easter:

“You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. ” (Mark 10: 42-45)

I encourage all of us who are responsible for leading others to adopt the servant leadership model of getting things done.

Hire people with heart and potential, not those with the best credentials (think of the 12 disciples).

Endure the betrayal of false friends. Forgive your followers when they fall asleep on the job.

Don’t be seduced by palm branches thrown down before you. Stand up for what is right, not what is convenient.

Forgive your enemies and return good to those that hurt you, while staying focused on your mission and goals.

Then, as a servant leader who “washes the feet of those you serve,” you will create an unstoppable organization filled with the leaders you helped grow.

Your legacy will then long outlast your life.

Happy Easter Season, 2022.

Charlie Dexter is a professor of applied business emeritus at the UAF Community and Technical College. He can be reached at [email protected] This column is brought to you as a public service by the UAF Department of Applied Business.

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