Leadership as a social phenomenon can be observed in various real-life situations that range from casual communication to empowerment and regulation of diverse profit and non-profit organizations. As a result, in the contemporary world, one can detect different forms of leadership, including the theories that enhance the abovementioned fact. Mostly, these theories suggest that a leader is an individual who motivates others to undertake a particular action or a change. However, there is at least one theory that characterizes leadership as a different experience in terms of interaction with the followers. This paper explores the idea and the framework of servant leadership by analyzing both personal experiences and theoretical premises. It suggests that servant leadership is a powerful tool that has support in the Bible and the modern leadership theories and allows individuals to change their lives and the surrounding communities. In the case of skillful application, servant leadership makes people and the world better by enabling sustainable development, assistance and progress, which can be observed in various communities.
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Servant Leadership: Volunteer Experience, Theory, Practice and Perspective
Practicing servant leadership starts from simple steps of engaging with an organization that helps the community. This paper discusses my person experience of being a servant leader at the “Meals on Wheels Texas” and the associated theoretical and practical implications. I have selected volunteering for this organization because it assists the disadvantaged community of Texas obtain meals. Its mission is the validation of “home-delivered and congregate meal programs for seniors and adults with disabilities in Texas”, the promotion of social networking, company-associated pilot programs and other beneficial initiatives (Meals on Wheels, 2016). I wanted to assist my community by active participation and I found this possibility useful for practicing the skills of servant leadership. Throughout the months of September and October, I have been working at the meal delivery service providing food to the elderly people and disabled individuals in several cities of the state. At first, this experience has seemed really touching to me because empathy is one of my main psychosocial traits. I was pleased to assist the disadvantaged population because I empowered my followers not only by food resources but also by the motivation for life and productive activity. Surprisingly, I did not feel exhausted after completing my mission and visiting hundreds of places on a weekly basis. I have realized that one of the reasons for such tireless work is an emotional connection and shared empowerment. By observing the emotions of my followers, I felt elevated and optimistic. Therefore, volunteering opened the servant leadership style in me because it enabled the principles that I knew only in theory.
I recognize the theory of servant leadership as a contemporary approach to the biblical guidelines, which suggest that by giving away people obtain a power to change themselves and the community. In this sense, I believe that Jesus was one of the first servant leaders because in Mark 10 it is said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45 New International Version). Similarly, the leadership scholars such as Greenleaf approve of the transformative power of serving the community. Thus, he states that “leaders who are best able to motivate followers are those who focus least on satisfying their own personal needs and most on prioritizing the fulfillment of followers’ needs” (Liden, Wayne, Liao, & Meuser, 2013). I experienced self-empowerment and observed the empowerment of other people whom I served because they were thankful and emotionally elevated. As a result, my followers and I formed strong social relationships. In this way, I realized that I had been practicing the ideas expressed both by servant leadership scholars and the Bible. For instance, I validated such principles of servant leadership as awareness, listening, stewardship, empathy, foresight, healing, and commitment to the community building (Zentner, 2016).
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In one of the cases, I delivered food to Mrs. M, aged 90, who used a wheelchair because of leg disability. Due to the empathy, awareness, and stewardship, I devoted her additional time and took her to the cemetery where she would visit her buried husband once a week. After these visits, I felt that she experienced consolation and relief, which was useful for her mental health. Additionally, I felt elevated and emotionally empowered because of the feeling that I helped this person overcome her life problems. As a consequence, I recognize that empathy, awareness, and stewardship are the principles of servant leadership that I have managed to implement best of all. Consequently, my personal style of servant leadership is based on empathy, compassion, and assistance. Volunteering has assisted me in discovering these aspects as a part of my identity, which is why I will actively use them in my life.
By helping the disadvantaged population, I added to the creation of a common greater good because I made a positive impact on the lives of my followers. At the same time, I shared this experience with a friend of mine, and she was ready to become a volunteer, too. In this way, I have added to the creation of a community associated with active servant leadership, which causes positive social changes. As for the future perspectives of me as a servant leader, I recognize that it is possible to use the discovered principles at my workplace and in my personal life. Empathy and assistance will allow me to change the people’s mood in a positive way, create a productive working atmosphere, and initiate workplace cooperation and collaboration. These factors are critical for any business because they stimulate team-building in which servant leadership becomes the core component of positive corporate change.
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Summarizing the information presented above, it may be concluded that being a volunteer has allowed me to enhance the theoretical and practical aspects of the application of servant leadership. I have chosen this organization because it assists the disadvantaged population of Texas and promotes positive social changes through the service. Being a volunteer for this organization and helping it meet its goals, I have realized that I can successfully implement the basic principles of servant leadership. Among the most often practiced servant principles have been empathy, compassion, and assistance, which form my individual servant leadership style. In the future, I plan to validate these principles at my workplace to create a collaborative, motivated and productive team, which will benefit my organization greatly.