Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Community Leadership at Work: The SSCAB's Committees

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Last night (Monday, January 23rd 2012) the three committees of the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board held their regularly scheduled monthly meeting. Ho-hum, you may say. Well, not this time.

The Neighborhoods Committee continued its conversation regarding the youth in our communities and schools. They brought together a sizeable number of youth, service providers, and school representatives to affirm the assets we have in our youth serving sphere – and of course identify the gaps that may exists.

The Pedestrian Safety & Transportation and Commercial & Economic Development focused their meeting on the impact of the Purple Line on small businesses, particularly in the Long Branch / Langley Park area. They had a spirited discussion on what has worked elsewhere, how collaborative efforts can help mitigate some of the impacts, and where to go from here (i.e.: how to remain engaged in the process.)

There were over 100 community members present in these two meeting; truly a remarkable turnout and a testament to the leadership of the Citizens Advisory Board. In the last year that leadership has embarked on various initiatives to become better informed so they can better do their primary task of advising the County Executive and County Council on all matters related to Silver Spring.

The apparent success of this new approach is based in part in recognizing the human capital assets in our community and inviting community members not customarily ‘at the table’ to be part of the traditional civic infrastructure.

IF YOU'D LIKE TO JOIN IN ON THE DISCUSSIONS AND DIALOGUES, PLEASE COME TO FUTURE MEETINGS. THE FULL BOARD MEETS THE SECOND MONDAY OF EACH MONTH; COMMITTEES MEET THE FOURTH MONDAYS OF EACH MONTH. ALL MEETINGS ARE IN THE EVENING [7 OR 7:30] IN THE SILVER SPRING CIVIC BUILDING.

The success of these committee meetings is also a testament to the potential of the “servant-leadership” model of community building that they embrace and practice. While Board members attend the committee meetings - of course - the vast majority of the participants are non-board members. They join in on the discussion and help shape the board's deliberation.

This "servant-leadership" model has been around for a long time... For those of us that appreciate this type of knowledge base - and like simple 'lists' - the following is adapted from Wikipedia’s entry on the subject:

Most writers see servant leadership as an underlying philosophy of leadership, demonstrated through specific characteristics and practices. The foundational concepts are found in Robert K. Greenleaf’s first three major essays, "The Servant as Leader", "The Institution as Servant", and "Trustees as Servants."

Larry Spears, who served for 17 years as the head of the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, identified ten characteristic of servant leaders in the writings of Greenleaf. The ten characteristics are:
[1] listening,
[2] empathy,
[3] healing,
[4] awareness,
[5] persuasion,
[6] conceptualization,
[7] foresight,
[8] stewardship,
[9] commitment to the growth of others, and
[10]building community.

Leadership experts such as Bolman, Deal, Covey, Fullan, Sergiovanni, and Heifitz also reference these characteristics as essential components of effective leadership.

The Center for Servant Leadership at the Pastoral Institute in Georgia defines servant leadership as a lifelong journey that includes:
[1] discovery of one’s self,
[2] a desire to serve others,
[3] and a commitment to lead.

Servant-leaders continually strive to be:
[1] trustworthy,
[2] self-aware,
[3] humble,
[4] caring,
[5] visionary,
[6] empowering,
[7] relational,
[8] competent,
[9] good stewards, and
[10] community builders.

Kent Keith, author of The Case for Servant Leadership and the current CEO of the Greenleaf Center, states that servant leadership is:
[1] ethical,
[2] practical, and
[3] meaningful.

He identifies seven key practices of servant leaders:
[1] self-awareness,
[2] listening,
[3] changing the paradigm,
[4] developing your colleagues,
[5] coaching not controlling,
[6] unleashing the energy and
[7] intelligence of others, and foresight.

James Sipe and Don Frick, in their book The Seven Pillars of Servant Leadership, state that servant-leaders are:
[1] individuals of character,
[2] put people first,
[3] skilled communicators,
[4] compassionate collaborators,
[5] use foresight,
[6] are systems thinkers, and
[7] exercise moral authority.

Unlike leadership approaches with a top-down hierarchical style, servant leadership instead emphasizes:
[1] collaboration,
[2] trust,
[3] empathy, and
[4] the ethical use of power.

At heart, the individual is a servant first, making the conscious decision to lead in order to better serve others, not to increase their own power. The objective is to enhance the growth of individuals in the organization and increase teamwork and personal involvement.

The link to Wikipedia’s article can be found at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Servant_leadership

A .pdf of the original book that started it all is at:
http://files.html.md/books/The%20Servant%20as%20Leader%20Greenleaf.pdf

…for more info in the Greenleaf Center, visit:
http://www.greenleaf.org/

{I hope you enjoy these occasional ‘outside the box’ blog postings… If you’d like to get them automatically, click on the “Join This Site” button on the upper left side of this page.}

Reemberto Rodriguez, Director
Silver Spring Regional Center

1 comment:

EG said...

Is it not curious that this posting has, to date, provoked no comments? One might ask why? A component of the answer could be that the elaboration of the concept of a "servant leader" doesn't speak to WHAT is done. It addresses predominantly internal processes. This is not compelling. In fact, it could be argued that it's irrelevant; what matters is objectives and results in achieving those objectives. An argument can be made that internal change follows behavior change as well as the opposite. Doing the right thing is more important than having the "right" reason.

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