Kiwanians are servant leaders

Nov 02, 2011

Key Leader at Lakeside Camp in Pittsfield, MA

Key Leader at Lakeside Camp in Pittsfield, MA - Oct. 21-23, 2011

by Lanton Lee

What does it mean to be a servant leader. Robert K. Greenleaf identified the concept of servant leadership in 1970 when he wrote his famous essay, “The Servant as Leader.” According to Greenleaf, "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."

Based on Greenleaf’s definition, I believe Kiwanians are servant leaders. Our organization is grounded in this philosophy, and it’s visible in everything we do. Greenleaf states, "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?" Does this describe what Kiwanis clubs do? I think it does. Look at what our clubs do through their sponsorship of our Service Leadership Programs clubs, the service projects our clubs do in the community and the work our clubs are doing through the global campaign for children. Kiwanians are servant leaders.

For more information about Robert K. Greenleaf and servant leadership, visit the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership.

To learn how Kiwanis teaches servant leadership to teenagers visit Key-Leader.org.


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