By Team Zatana
The concept of “servant leadership” was coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in an essay “The Servant as a Leader” in 1970. Greenleaf believed that a servant-first leader is inspired to lead by ensuring that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. A servant leader shares any accumulation of power with the people they serve, puts the needs of others first, and strives to improve communities. The truth of the matter is that great leaders care deeply about people, and often this translates as seeking opportunities to improve people’s lives.
If you look closely at the model of the Leadership Development Program, it becomes apparent that servant leadership is at the heart of our mission. LDP exists to enrich the lives of students by inspiring them to use leadership as their platform to advocate for a better world. This is achieved through leadership development methodology and real-time practice during community service projects. This model of practicing leadership through service and volunteerism, is very much intentional. It allows us to think about how our actions today will benefit the future. It allows us to understand that servant leadership is not a style, it is behaviors that reflect a selfless dedication to do better.
Throughout the past ten years, the LDP has participated in a myriad of volunteer opportunities that equate to an immeasurable impact on our campus and community. In my first Team Week alone, our team completed over thirty hours of volunteer work at the Southern Illinois Science Center. This was my first exposure to servant-leadership, and arguably my most impactful. We completed numerous projects during our time at the Science Center, including construction of multiple exhibits and the
remodeling of others. Completing these projects with the team was extremely gratifying, but the real gratification came when I visited The Science Center a couple weeks later. As I walked into The Science Center, I saw young kids and adults alike interacting with the exhibits the LDP created. At that moment, I realized that our actions during Team Week had become a permanent fixture at The Science Center, and even-more-so, a permanent fixture in the lives of hundreds of children that visit The Science Center.
My favorite volunteer experience was the Red Cross Blood Drive, when the LDP was responsible for collecting donor signatures and assisting with the event. It occurred in a busy point in the semester for me, but I managed to find time to help get signatures. It was hard at first trying to get the necessary signatures because many people had needle phobias and were reluctant to help. However, by the end of my time there we had a multitude of signatures.
When the day came for people to donate blood, it was amazing to see how many people actually donated, and among them, how many I recognized as the individuals with phobias that managed to overcome them, so they could help others. It felt like I really helped make a difference. This experience helped me to refine my leadership skills by putting them to action. I was able to model the way by putting my own name on the donation list originally. Secondly, it showed me how much of an impact an individual can make by going out of the way to make something happen.
Ruben Moro Roman
I believe that servant leadership is an essential component of being a good leader for the following reasons. By being a servant leader you are able to collaborate with others easily and they with you. Not only this, but you will also grow as a leader by being a better listener and being more mindful; you will have a team first attitude. I believe that as a servant leader you are able to lead as an example much easier, and by contributing and volunteering in the community you are strengthening and building those bonds and using those skills that make a great leader.
My favorite volunteering activity is when Steven and I volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. The reason for this was because I was able to take part, even if it was a small part like putting up drywall, helping give a family a home and the potential for a brighter future.