Kevin Monroe, Sheri Nasim, Dr. Tony Baron, and Larry Spears

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the Greenleaf International Annual Conference in Indianapolis. The conference is based on the teachings of Robert K. Greenleaf who coined the concept of servant leadership in the 1960s. Servant leadership is about reversing the polarity of power.

The idea continues to spread through corporations, non-profits, academia, theological institutions, NGOs, and governmental organizations worldwide. Approximately 300 people representing 15 countries attended this year’s conference.

Over the weekend, I reviewed my notes and selected my top ten takeaways shared by the speakers. Here they are:

  1. Cheryl Bachelder, CEO of Popeyes: It is essential for every leader to determine their personal purpose. Ask yourself, “What life experiences have shaped me?” “What is important to me?” “Why do I lead?”
  2. Dr. Tony Baron, Scholar in Residence for Center for Executive Excellence and author of The Art of Servant Leadership: Servant leaders must act as bearers of hope and see others in terms of what they are becoming.
  3. Howard Behar, former Starbucks President and best-selling author of It’s Not About the Coffee: Servant leadership is not an intellectual experience, but a human experience.
  4. Peter Block, best-selling author of several books, including Community: The task of servant leadership is to reconstruct the story of community and meaning. Our challenge is to let go of a business perspective to create a communal perspective.
  5. Dr. Kent Keith, CEO for Greenleaf Center-Asia: The cost of servant leadership is that you must invest time up front, often in the form of listening.
  6. Jack Lowe, Jr., former CEO of TDIndustries: You can’t run out and build trust when you need it.  You’ve got to build it in advance, and save it for a rainy day.
  7.  Mike Mather, author of Sharing Stories, Shaping Communities: Everyone, regardless of what “needs” they have – walks in the door with something to give to the greater community. Stop helping, and start listening!
  8. Ann McGee-Cooper, author and co-founder of Ann McGee-Cooper & Associates: Leaders should teach the best of what they see happening and elevate it for all to see.
  9. Kelvin Redd, former Synovus executive and currently Director of Center for Servant Leadership: Are you in your job to do something or just have something to do?
  10. Larry Spears, President & CEO of The Spears Center for Servant Leadership: Look for examples of people practicing servant leadership where you may least expect it. Listen to Bruce Springstein’s “Darkness on the Edge of Town” (1978.)

This year’s Greenleaf conference was one of the best I have attended.  The balance of industries, generations, and cultures made for fascinating discussions.  It gets better with each passing year!

Question:  If you attended this year’s Greenleaf conference, what were you struck by?  Please leave a comment below.




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