For my Leadership Studies class, the 40 some of us were split into different groups. Each group was in charge of teaching the class a different leadership theory. My group was responsible for one of the harder topics: The Style Approach. I won’t go into too much detail, but basically, according to the style approach, there are four types of leaders in the world. Each of them leads in a different way and are more successful than others in certain situations. If that little tie bit of information confused you and you want to learn more about the style approach to leadership, you can visit this link, which does a pretty good job at explaining things.
The one theory that I do want to talk about is Servant Leadership. The basis of the servant style is “its’s not what it is, it’s how its done.” This theory focuses not on defining leadership, like many of the other theories, but rather on how we should lead. There are 10 characteristics that are involved with servant leadership: listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and building community.
As I am listing these characteristics off, there is one organization that comes to mind: Blight Busters. The mission of this organization is help bring the community of Detroit back onto its feet. They do this by doing a number of things: creating urban gardens, cleaning out abandoned houses, picking up trash along the streets of Detroit, and the list goes on and on. I had the opportunity to work with this organizations first hand while on my LAS in the D trip, so I have seen the amount of work that goes into gutting a house or creating a garden.
This group of volunteers embodies all the qualities of a servant leader. By listening to the people in their community and having foresight, they are able to identify what the needs are and how to help in the best way possible. Many of the volunteers have empathy for those around them because they have been in the same situation at one point or another. They generously give away all the vegetables that are grown in their urban gardens for free to those who need it more than they do. This is also an example of how they embody healing, the caring of their followers. Next is the awareness of the group. They realize how big of an impact they have had on the community around them, which is why they have continued their work for over 25 years. The Blight Busters are the perfect example of persuasion: creating change through the use of gentle, nonjudgmental argument. This group would never ask details about the people they give to or the volunteers that come to work for them. To them everyone is equal. The urban garden is also a great example of conceptualization. They came up with a great solution for a problem that many cities around the world have. Stewardship and the commitment to the growth of people go hand in hand. both involve doing what benefits the greater good of the community, something that the Blight Busters show in every action.
The last quality and what I think is most important is building community. It can be described as allowing the followers to identify with something greater than themselves that they value or to build a community to provide a place where people can feel safe and connected with others but are still allowed to express their own individuality. It is easy to see that the Blight Busters fulfill this characteristic in every way possible. They have secured 379 abandoned places to help make Detroit safer for all its residents. They have also helped to renovate 176 houses as well as build 114 new ones for the people of the community.