What is Servant Leadership? The definition states that Servant Leadership is a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations, and ultimately creates a more just and caring world. The key here is “set of practices.” In order to be a servant leader, you must first begin to serve by putting others before yourself. There are ten characteristics of a Servant Leader which must be put into practice:
- Commitment to the Growth of People
- Building Community
I have previously posted about Servant Leadership in Action in Before the 313 and LAS in the D, in which I have explained taking service trips to Detroit. This time, however, I would like to focus more specifically on the Service Leadership Theory.
As a part of LAS in the D, we had the opportunity to give back to the city of Detroit by working with Cass. The service that we did collectively as a group included recycling old tires and paper and working at the shelter and soup kitchen. As a part of this service, I would like to highlight and expand upon three of the ten characteristics of a Servant Leader that are shown above: Stewardship, Commitment to the Growth of People, and Building Community.
Stewardship is taking responsibility for the role entrusted to you, the responsibility to manage, and leading for the greater good of society. On my service trip to Detroit, I volunteered with a group of friends to go to Cass’ paper recycling center. There, we were given instructions on how to sort and shred old papers. After we were briefed on what we were supposed to do, we were turned loose. Because it was a group of my friends, and the work was not too physically demanding, it could have been painfully easy for us to slack off or not use or time efficiently for the work that we were doing. But instead, we managed our time and our work responsibly, and in doing so, we got as much work done as we could in the time that we were given. Because of this, we were able to recycle multiple large bins of papers. In responsibly doing our role in the service project, we did something good for both the City of Detroit as well as the environment as a whole, and we were able to make as large of an impact as possible.
Commitment to the Growth of People is treating each person as a unique individual both personally and professionally and providing others with opportunities, skills, and ideas. One great thing about working with Cass is that Cass is an employer of the people of Detroit who are unemployed or who are homeless. And Cass not only offers these people employment, but also helps with skill development for future opportunities. In working with Cass, I was able to work side by side with people who had been given opportunities there that they were not given elsewhere. Through my own service, I was an individual piece of the service that was being provided by Cass.
Building Community is sharing interests and unity with others by allowing others to identify with something greater than themselves and letting others feel safe and connected through expressing their individuality. On my service trip to Detroit, I was able to meet a variety of new people from an array of backgrounds. It was a privilege to be serving alongside these individuals, learning the same skills as them and serving the community in the same ways that they did by contributing to the common good and building meaningful relationships in the process.
On my service trip to Detroit, I was able to not only see Servant Leadership in action, but I was able to experience it firsthand through my own actions and the work that I had the privilege of doing. This connection, for me, will not stop here. I have seen the impact that I can have on others by incorporating the Servant Leadership Theory in my life, and it is something that, to me, feels very rewarding. Simply put, I feel good when I am able to give back. And with this deeper understanding, I will continue to incorporate Servant Leadership and the ten characteristics of a Servant Leader in my life whenever the opportunities arise. I hope that in my doing so, I will have a positive impact on both the community that I am serving and all the people who are observing.