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What makes a successful leader?

Leadership is a skillset and a gifting that has been applied to different persons throughout the course of human history. We each encounter various leaders in the different aspects of our lives. We can each name the leaders in our communities, our churches, our workplaces and even our homes. Each of those individuals exercise their leadership through different approaches. What they have in common is that they have been able to craft an ability to influence others into action through the development of some form of allegiance. Allegiance is an interesting characteristic and one can project that some forms are based on fear, some on convenience and some on trust. A good leader’s allegiance is based on the latter.

I have been granted the opportunity to exercise and hone my leadership over the years through situations that I have been blessed to be placed into. What I have found to be an effective leadership approach that is informed by and complements my spiritual and moral centering is one of servant leadership.

This approach of servant leadership is not one of boisterous bullying, coercive scheming, or hierarchical over-lording. It is based on a willingness and desire to listen to, know, and understand those I am working with so that each can be supported and encouraged. This creates the basis upon which a collaborative environment can be grown where everyone has the opportunity to succeed. Knowledge and understanding is only gained by a consistent and thoughtful approach to relationship building. To build a relationship one must focus intently and sincerely on the other person.

My servant leadership rests on the following pillars:

  • Humility
  • Encouragement
  • Trust

Humility is a true internal, intellectual and emotional recognition, that “it is not about me.” That others are equally deserving of success and are to be valued, recognized and credited. It is a reflection of a strong self-awareness that my place in the grand scheme is small, albeit important, and there are those that know more than I do about a particular component. It is supported by a firm foundation upon my strengths and a desire to seek out and collaborate with those who are strong where I am weak, so that each are afforded the freedom to be the best they can be.

Encouragement rests on the ability to set firm deadlines as well as clear, concise expectations with measurable metrics. It is knowing how to make the appropriate tools available for each of the team members to use to gain the personal satisfaction of a positive outcome. Encouragement often takes the form of coach, cheerleader and counselor. I must be willing to get in trenches with those working there, share with and contribute to a common binding experience.

Trust is earned, pure and simple. It is not bestowed upon one due to privilege or position. Earning that trust is a process, a never-ending process, based on unwavering and consistent support. It is about being transparent, being interested, taking responsibility for outcomes when less than favorable, and giving credit for work well done. It is a recognition of the true value of each individual.

Servant leadership is challenging, it takes vigilant work. I fall short on numerous occasions, but that never means I stop striving to be better. It is a life-long quest to leave this world a better place.

As the current Chair of SHIM’S Board of Directors, I have the fortunate pleasure to serve with many other gifted fellow board member leaders who come together with a shared vision to support the SHIM staff and community. We learn from each other and together with that staff we believe we make a difference in the lives of our neighbors who are working through life’s challenging circumstances.

John Schrott, SHIM’s Chairman of the Board


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