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"How Can You Get Involved this Summer?"

By Caitlin Ault


As summer approaches, we have a unique opportunity to engage with our communities and make a meaningful impact. By embracing servant leadership, we can significantly enhance both our personal and professional growth.


The Essence of Servant Leadership

Servant leadership, a philosophy popularized by Robert K. Greenleaf in 1970, is an unconventional leadership approach characterized by a set of behaviors and practices that prioritize the welfare and development of those being served. This concept not only fosters a more inclusive and supportive work environment but also strengthens the bond between organizations and their communities.


As Greenleaf stated, “A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the ‘top of the pyramid’.” (1) Rather than ruling by dictatorship, servant leaders do everything they can to help their team perform their best work.


Research supports it. “A study of 961 employees in 71 Jason’s Deli restaurants found an increase in job performance of 6%, customer service of 8%, and employee retention of 50% when bosses acted as servants to those employees.”(2) Similarly, a study by “Datron World Communications became a $200 million company in just five years by implementing servant leadership. When Art Barter bought the company in 2004, it was worth only $10 million.”(2) These statistics emphasize the tangible benefits of integrating this approach into its leadership strategies.


The Impact of Servant Leadership in Community Engagement

When leaders adopt a servant leadership approach to community engagement, they inspire their teams to look beyond their immediate work environment and contribute to the greater good. Engaging with the community allows leaders to understand the broader context in which their organizations operate. It provides insights into local needs and challenges, that enables leaders to align their corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives with these realities.


This not only enriches the lives of those in the community but also fosters a culture of empathy and social responsibility within the organization. Such efforts result in a positive ripple effect that benefits both the organization and the community. Moreover, these initiatives enhance organizational performance and attract and retain talent, making community engagement a strategic imperative for forward-thinking leaders.


Practical Steps for Community Engagement

So what are some practical steps you can do as a leader starting today?


  1. Identify Local Needs: This can be done through surveys, meetings with local leaders, or participating in community events.

  2. Volunteer Initiatives: Organize volunteer days where employees can contribute to local projects.

  3. Partnerships with Nonprofits: Establish partnerships with local nonprofits. These organizations often have the expertise and infrastructure to address community issues effectively.

  4. Mentorship Programs: This not only provides valuable support to the community but also develops leadership skills within your team.

  5. Corporate Donations and Fundraising: Encourage and facilitate corporate donations or fundraising events for local causes.


By embracing a servant leadership mindset and actively engaging with the community, leaders can make a significant difference in their arena. By committing to this style, leaders can build trust and inspire their teams to do the same.


 

References:

1. Greenleaf, R. 1970. The Servant as Leader. Retrieved from https://www.greenleaf.org/what-is-servant-leadership/

2. Mateja. 2021. 7 Servan Leadership Statistics for Business in 2022. https://officeneedle.com/servant-leadership-statistics/

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