One of the keys to the development of Michigan’s philanthropic infrastructure was the theory of servant leadership. Michigan’s philanthropic leaders embraced the concept and used the ideals to build a strong network for the state. To find out more about Michigan’s model of Servant Leadership, visit Chapter 1.
In many respects, servant leadership is both a character trait and a value system. A servant leader is frequently modest, developmental, empowering, and unseen. Leaders of nonprofit and foundation boards should hire individuals who have the character and values of a servant leader and be supportive of their work. The responsibility to develop a broader culture of servant leadership for philanthropy resides with an organization’s leadership and their boards of trustees in major foundations and nonprofits.
In order to foster a culture of servant leadership, leaders should provide professional education at workshops and conferences that offer servant leadership as an effective leadership style. Topics could include, for example: the definition of servant leadership; examples of its efficacy; discussion of the conceptual framework; and the strategy and value of embracing servant leadership in the workplace.
A general orientation could then be reinforced with specific workshops and seminars to build the cluster of skills required. The lessons included in the orientation can then be strengthened through in-service workshops, seminars, and coaching to help extend understanding and build expectations of a servant leadership style.
As young professionals are mentored in the field, they can learn the lessons of servant leadership and shape their own character and strategies for leading. Through an investment of time and energy, knowledgeable servant leaders can pass on what they have learned and experienced to help prepare the next generation of philanthropic leaders.
“Mentoring is your responsibility. I don’t care how high you are in the organization. You can be a vice president of a great university and so on. You have a responsibility to mentor. You must do that. You have to be mentors. It’s the only way we’re really going to build that strength and professionalism for the future.” –John Lore