Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Servant Leaders in Action -- Inspirations from the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership 2013 International Conference

by Sonya Mau, MCLP Executive Director

Phani and I were honored to be asked to speak about MCLP at the 23rd Annual International Conference for the Center for Servant Leadership on June 14, 2013. Our key objective was to inspire others to consider such a program for their community.

Little did we know how much we would be inspired by those we met during the conference, all of whom shared our passion for developing proactive servant leaders for stronger communities. Following are some highlights from our experience.

We met the famous business consultant Peter Block, whose latest book is about community. At this conference, he opened a general session titled: Community: The Structure of Belonging and talked about what it takes to build a strong, vibrant community. He compared it to “what it takes to build a strong business.” There are differences. His many thought-provoking and humorous observations inspired both mind and spirit.

His co-presenter was Mike Mathers, pastor of Broadway United Methodist Church in Indianapolis. Mike transformed the community he served by focusing on the talents of the poor who came to the church food pantry, rather than their financial state. By doing so, he gave them dignity, hope and inspiration. Individuals discovered their value and shared their talents with others…resulting in a stronger and richer neighborhood. “The only difference between the poor and us is they have less money.” Mike’s leadership left the community he served better off in all ways.

We met Dave Guerra who spoke on “Servant Leadership for Business: a Turning Point.” Dave’s excitement about how servant leadership is an unmistakable competitive advantage was inspiring. He is the author of “Superperformance, the Super Performing CEO, and Super Projects.” He consults on the integration of servant leadership and systems thinking principles into a corporation’s success plan.

“Servant Leadership in Hard Times” was a session by two servant leaders who were asked to organize the shut-down of a manufacturing plant in Dayton, Ohio in 24 months. Meanwhile, they had to continue making quality parts throughout the entire 24 months. Tom Green and Mary Miller shared the amazing story of how they actually accomplished their business mission, while at the same time leaving the 1,550 people better off, better positioned to find new jobs, with new degrees, and new energy. They credit the servant leadership principles they followed and a lot of hard work for their success.

Howard Behar, author of “It’s Not about the Coffee,” served as President of Starbucks, North America and was the founding President of Starbucks International. His inspirational speech was about the servant leadership spirit, which starts from the very top and travels through to those who serve the Starbuck clients. It’s the “people-helping-people spirit” that’s kept Starbucks strong and vital. 

We also learned about the increased acceptance of the philosophy of servant leadership in education and business: MBA programs, such as the “Ken Blanchard Executive MBA”program, include it. Stephen Covey adopted servant leadership philosophies into his training modules. A Servant Leadership Institute in San Diego was founded by a CEO who adopted the servant leadership philosophy in his business with such great results that he started the Institute to share this philosophy with others.

The concept of servant-leadership described in the seminal pamphlet “Servant as Leader” by Robert Greenleaf in 1970 has grown organically for more than four decades. It was exciting to talk with like-minded people who shared our passion for this philosophy. We could tell that we are meeting the needs of the future with our simple and hard-won program. The future will be amazing for the Multicultural Leadership Program (MCLP) and our community.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Multicultural Leadership Program’s Board Networking Fair

The Multicultural Leadership Program’s Board Networking Fair that was held at Country Financial, Saturday afternoon, February 9, 2013, proved successful. With twenty-five planned not-for-profit organizations at the event, the participants of MCLP 2013 had plenty of board and committee opportunities presented. Twenty-five different tables were set up in a circle around a huge room. At each table there were one or two individuals representing the organization, eagerly hoping to recruit future board members that had passion and desire for change. Among the organizations was Faith in Action of Bloomington-Normal, the representative was a former graduate of MCLP Lori Harvey who is now the president of the organization. Faith in Action works towards making sure senior citizens are properly cared for.

The room was silent, as the organizations awaited the arrival of the MCLP participants. Before the event began I had a chance to sit down and talk with Denny Steele, representative from the Western Avenue Community Center. The community center is dedicated to giving people opportunities and hope. The programs are organized based on education, the after school club includes children from grades K-5th and the teen clubs focuses on junior high girls. Furthermore, The Center focuses on the growing Hispanic community offering interpretation services, Latino counseling services and women’s support groups. Mentoring programs which include “State Farm executives who make great role models,” work with youth. Steele hoped the fair would result in a potential board member from MCLP.

Noise immediately entered, as the participants joined the event. Instructions soon followed, as the participants were told that this was a mock speed dating event. The MCLP students were given six minutes to evaluate whether or not a particular organization was the right fit for them. At the tables organizations were ready with pamphlets full of information, business cards, and some even had pencils. However, the participants were ready as well passing out business cards and asking the organizations several questions. After six minutes the bell rang and complete chaos broke out, as individuals shook hands and moved on to the next table. Some participants wanted to talk to a particular organization, but were beat to the seat. Choosing another nearby organization drew connections that may have not been made otherwise.

MCLP would like to thank the following not-for-profit organizations for giving participants a networking opportunity:

·         American Civil Liberties Union

·         Big Brother Big Sister of Mclean County

·         Bloomington-Normal YMCA

·         Boys and Girls Club of Bloomington-Normal

·         Challenger Learning Center at Heartland Community College

·         Children’s Home and Aid

·         Collaborative Solutions Institute

·         Community Health Care Clinic

·         Easter Seals

·         Ecology Action Center

·         Faith in Action Bloomington-Normal

·         Heartland Community College Foundation

·         Heartland Head Start

·         Home Sweet Home Ministries

·         Illinois Prairie Community Foundation

·         Illinois Theatre Consortium

·         Kiwanis Club of Bloomington, IL

·         Labyrinth Outreach Services to Women

·         The League of Women Voters of Mclean County

·         Marcfirst

·         Mclean County Museum of History

·         Mid-Central Community Action, Inc.

·         PATH

·         West Bloomington Revitalization Project

·         Western Avenue Community Center