In this day and age, what is servant leadership? Is there a place for it?
I have spent my career working in the nonprofit sector. And I’ve had the privilege of partnering with insightful and provocative organizations committed to justice, beauty through the arts, the health of our communities, and the nurturing of curiosity and life-long learning. The people I join with – staff and volunteers alike – are servants to missions bigger than any one person and any one idea.
However, as I watch the world around me I wonder if we’re losing the battle. Some may say I’ve gotten a bit cynical over the nearly 40 years in this field. However, I don’t think so. I’ve gotten more realistic. And unless we begin to ask the uncomfortable questions, the nonprofit sector will lose its power to lead the change we’ve always envisioned and bring lasting solutions.
Not to get political – because our politics do reflect who we are as a county – I ask us to consider how we might lead in creative ways that untangle and provoke new thinking…encourage willingness to listen to counter ideas…seek to understand different perspectives…to learn and plan collectively for the common good? It IS possible IF we refuse to lead with fear, with limited information, and with self-interest. We will ALL fail if community does not endure.
As leaders who choose to serve in this social sector, we have unprecedented opportunity to increase our capacity to be human – to lead conversations and work together in unexpected ways that build compassionate, thoughtful, and intentional community. What if we expected the best of each other…not the worst? How do we become servants to “sane leadership” and possibility?
I love a question Margaret Wheatley recently asked in her book Who Do You Choose to Be? She asked, “What is Sane Leadership? It is the unshakable faith in people’s capacity to be generous, creative and kind.”
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