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Posted on March 10, 2016
Growing Servant Leaders
Our Growing Points commitment is to achieve the leadership ambitions of people form excluded communities. We do this by recruiting well networked Guardians who “gift” their networks to our customers. And it works!
But I get asked about the leadership thing, why not just ambition? Well in many cases it’s just that but I happen to believe that good leadership, inspires,encourages and develops healthy people and relationships.
Of course that’s a big expectation but I find that our customers, coming as they do from the margins of our society do have a real understanding of the model of Servant Leadership that I think works and keeps on giving.
Robert Greenleaf first coined the term in his 1970 book “The Servant as Leader” and defined it in this way:“The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.
“The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?“ (My emphasis)
You can see why this might appeal to Growing Points, the emphasis on growth, improvement and avoiding further deprivation is powerful and of critical concern if the leader is to make a difference. It’s not a model widely recognised (or applied) but when you see it you can feel it; I’ve become aware of it in Quaker meetings, some counselling and coaching situations and social care and healing organisations, not always and not exclusively but there enough to touch.
We are beginning to recognise leadership in our organisation in our customers and where their achievements are such that they inspire and encourage others we will offer them the opportunity to become “associates” who become involved in working with and leading our organisation. Soon we hope some will join as Trustees and participate in our new and exciting programmes of work, maybe some will be servant leaders….