“The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first” (Greenleaf, 1977, p. 27). For the servant-leader, the needs of others will be the primary driver rather than meeting the needs of the individual themselves. In this paper, incorporating a leader interview, the student will highlight the interviewee’s responses to servant-leadership concepts and their impressions and experiences as a servant-leader. Background
The interviewee that was chosen for this paper was Kathy Krueger, high school counselor for the student’s son at Seattle Preparatory School. Seattle Preparatory is a Catholic, Jesuit high school for grades 9-12 with an enrollment of 700 students. Their mission statement is to “form discerning, transformational leaders who are intellectually competent, spiritually alive, open to growth, loving and committed to justice” (“Seattle Preparatory Mission Statement,” “n.d.”). Ms. Krueger has been at Seattle Preparatory since 1970. She was first hired as a part-time teacher, providing instruction for Collegio (combined English, history, and theology class) and part-time counselor.
Her current role has been to work with junior and senior students with a focus in college counseling. Prior to coming to Seattle Preparatory, Ms. Krueger began her teaching career in 1969 as a member of the Sisters of Holy Names Order. She left the convent in 1970 and taught at St. Aloysius Grade School in Spokane. In 1976, upon moving to Seattle, she began her high school teaching career. On Wednesday November 6, an in person interview was conducted with Ms. Krueger at Seattle Preparatory school. The interview was conducted over approximately one hour in length and consisted of fifteen questions. ( Appendix A) Discussion
“The natural servant, the person who is servant-first, is more likely to persevere and refine a particular hypothesis on what serves another’s highest priority needs than is the person who is leader-first and who later serves out of promptings of conscience or in conformity with normative expectations” (Greenleaf, 1977, p. 28). Prior to the interview beginning, servant leadership was reviewed with Ms. Krueger. A servant leader buts an emphasis on others first and serving them; leading is secondary. Those who want to be leaders first will most often be catering to their own egos and seeking power.
Servant leadership cannot be something one turns on and off based on the situation, it has to be part of the person; it will be what you breathe day in and day through actions and words. “Servant leadership is more than a mere concept, a style, or a theory of leadership, but rather a distinct perspective, a philosophy, an emergent world view- a way of being in the world” (Horsman, 2013, p.4 ). The foundation of servant-leadership started through role modeling by her parents. K. Krueger (personal communication, November 6, 2013) “Each of us felt unconditional love… They imparted a lot of values, especially that we need to give back in service” (Appendix A). Ms. Krueger was interested in both service and education as a career.
Two of her brothers entered the Jesuit order and she made the decision to enter the Holy Names Sisters’. After six years in the convent, one year before final vows, Ms. Krueger made the decision to leave the convent and continue to serve as a layperson. At that time in the Church, the understanding of lay ministry was beginning to form and not just members of the religious orders could be called for service but all people could be call to serve. K. Krueger (personal communication, November 6, 2013) “As a lay person, I am a companion with the Jesuits in their mission to teach young people to be loving, open to growth, intellectually competent, spiritually alive, loving, and committed to justice” (Appendix A).
“Servant –leading is more than a style, it is a philosophy-a way of being- a world view which may utilize different leadership styles-styles that are considered appropriate to the situation and the environment that may be applied with servant-first approach” (Horsman, 2013, p. 10). Ms. Krueger encompasses this in her day-to-day role as a school counselor and servant-leader. When asked to provide an example of how other leaders serve, K. Krueger’s response (personal communication November 6, 2013) was “Good servant leaders bring out the best in people. They encourage a person’s growth. They have a deep sense of respect for each individual. Teachers who experience a servant leader believing in them want to buy in to the mission of the school and are far more productive and help create a healthy school” (Appendix A).
When you have a strong community within the workplace it builds camaraderie among the employees and staff members. In a happier workplace, staff will be more willing to help each out and cooperate so each other succeeds. “Servant leadership is focused on the development of the person and the organization for the purpose of creating a more serving, caring society” (Horsman, 2013, p. 10). As a high school counselor that focuses on junior and senior students readying them for college or the next step after high school, Ms. Krueger plays a pivotal role in these student’s lives in setting them up for the next stop in life’s journey.
Horsman (2013) contends stewardship from the servant leadership perspective includes role modeling for others and ensuring continuous development of their people which includes promoting of other servant leaders. As a high school counselor, Ms. Krueger role models servant leadership for her students. As a servant-leader, she wants to ensure the continuous developments and growth of others. K. Krueger (personal communication, November 6, 2013) “At Seattle Prep, we are encouraged to facilitate learning rather than the top down model of teacher and student” (Appendix A).
In the model of teaching at Seattle Preparatory School, the pyramid has been flipped so that student and teacher work together collaboratively rather than the teacher on top driving the information to the student. In secondary education at Seattle Preparatory school, lay teachers and counselors are companions in the ministry of the Jesuits. Servant leadership has been integrated into the class room through the Ignatian pedagogy (“Seattle Preparatory Magis Christian Service,” “n.d.”). K. Krueger (personal communication, November 6, 2013) “This process includes context, experience, reflection, action, and evaluation” (Appendix A). As a high school counselor focusing on college counseling, Ms. Krueger assists her students with finding the needed resources while, providing them with encouragement for the college application process. She sets expectations with the students so that they know what they are accountable for. Ms. Krueger is entrusted with the resources of Seattle Preparatory school to optimally support the students in their successful journey to higher education, such as Naviance, a college application tracking program, and time for regular check ins with the students Ms. Krueger has been an integral role in a student’s life at Seattle Preparatory School.
She derives her power by empowering her students and co-workers. K. Krueger (personal communication, November 6, 2013) “In the Jesuit model power resides in indifference. Real power is when we have openness to looking at a variety of viewpoints and solutions.” (Appendix A), As a servant leader, being able to step back and look at the whole systems view and how things are interconnected and relate to the whole versus a single microcosm. This provides the ability to see various perspectives versus only silos. Ms. Krueger welcomes input from parents, students, and staff to continually improve communication processes within the school and streamlining of the college application experience from all viewpoints. Ms. Krueger’s does her work not for the glory or the power but for the love it brings in serving the students’ each and every day. The student’s rely on Ms. Krueger’s humble, guiding hand to keep them on their path. Similar to Leo who left his group, in the The Journey to the East, if she were to leave Seattle Preparatory School the realization would be made “…that the more certain his loss became, the more indispensable, he seemed” (Hesse, 1956, p. 39). Just like Leo, Ms. Krueger is a servant first; this is who she is and who she has been within herself. Conclusion
As Greenleaf writes “servant-leaders differ from other persons of goodwill because they act on what they believe” (Greenleaf, 1977, p. 341). For Ms. Krueger, this began with a strong foundation of values and the importance of service first role modeled by her parents, with her mother first as a nurse spending many years working in the House of Charity in ministering to homeless men. Her parents demonstrated the importance of putting the needs of others before one’s self. As a lay teacher, counselor, and companion to the Jesuits, she continues this philosophy of servant-leadership with each relationship she has with students and staff at Seattle Preparatory School. Servant-leaders as in Ms. Krueger’s case may be in our presence every day, doing for others with the knowledge they are making a difference in each life they touch.
Serving first needs to become our way of being, our natural way to act. In practicing service first, we will foster relationships of trust, helping people, and developing cooperation among others. Our most important resource will be our people, as a servant leader in training it builds a strong community in our workplace, which leads to happier staff and stronger relationships among team members. As a leader it is less about directing and leading but more about supporting, empowering, and growing others. In the course of this assignment and interviewing Ms. Kruger, it created a moment to pause and be humble by those around us that are the unsung heroes that touch our lives every day without the appreciation of the impact it has on us. People like Ms. Kruger provide a shelter of hope and knowing she continues to influence the lives of others has been an inspiration. “Servant leadership is about You and I becoming fully human individually and collectively; in the fullest sense this means that the fruits of serving is the enhancement of the collective WE” (Horsman, 2013, p. 21).