04 Jan How Servant Leadership Impacted my Service
This is part of a series of stories from Servant Leaders who have been trained by the Center for Sharing over the past fifteen years. We will be highlighting leaders across the globe who have submitted their lives to serve and now find themselves in positions of leadership. Salome Meeme, who now works for CARE International and who was part of a Servant leadership Class in Kisumu, Kenya in 2007, shares her story and how she’s trying to apply the principles of Servant Leadership to the work she is doing.
I attended Servant Leadership Seminar (SLS) that was held in September, 2007 in Kisumu. The seminar was meant for Western Kenya Ministers and I was privileged to be among the only two lay people in the session.
I feel very privileged to have attended, because after going through the seminar I kept on asking myself two questions:-
- Am I devoted to serving the needs of those I served? Do they grow as persons; do they while being served become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants (Greenleaf).
- What is my stake in serving the less privileged in the community, do they benefit from my service? Do I serve them with commitment and passion?
I specifically started thinking on how to improve and support the much needed attitude of service—an attitude where service to each other takes little or no effort. My focus has been pulling out of the self-serving, domineering kind of attitude so that I can provide better service to those I serve.
Greenleaf said “it begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead.” I challenged myself on whether my service brought out the best to those I serve, lead and mentor. In the organizational set up, I realized that if my services are good, other employees will be satisfied, customers and other stakeholders are satisfied and thus are willing to trust in me & the organization, and this positively impacts the overall performance of the organization.
My work has been mainly administrative duties and supporting other offices. SLS helped me realize that I can lead through the power of relationships with others which is made possible when I bring the spirit of servant hood to work. I also try creating an empowering work environment by providing joy and fulfillment in meaningful work to those I supervise and support. Listening has been a key to my service; I learned that one can easily identify the needs of those that we serve and more importantly focus on not only meeting their needs but accomplishing them as well. It is a powerful tool that can help build communities and give opportunities to the most vulnerable and avert further deprivation to the less privileged.
SL is a long term, transformational approach to life and work. The last two years have been challenging for me. I, however, realized that building the right attitude, with patience, perseverance, and above all foresight was a key to realizing my dreams. It is not a quick fix approach. SLS helped me dream and have the right attitude beyond the challenges and obstacles that I faced.
SLS has also taught me to groom and build others so that they can better serve the community and assume leadership roles. Currently, I am working for a community-based organization dealing with humanitarian issues, ranging from reduction of poverty, provision of clean water and access to proper sanitation, environmental conservation and adaptation of climate change. I also work on empowering the less privileged (women and the poor) to support vulnerable and marginalized communities. I lend administrative support to over fifteen (15) programs. SLS has come in handy since serving communities—and especially the vulnerable people groups in them has been my vocation. SL has been my guiding philosophy; it has offered me personal growth spiritually, professionally, emotionally as well as intellectually.
In conclusion, I thank God I met Cheryl and Glenn who made me realize my potential as a Servant Leader and even more for genuinely believing in me and my service. This has helped me “dream big dreams,” endeavor to make a difference whenever I have an opportunity, and impact someone’s life.