Leadership Racine is a program of Racine Area Manufacturers and Commerce (RAMAC), which represents businesses in the greater Racine area as the Chamber of Commerce.
Leadership Racine has been a valued program of RAMAC for 20 years, and since the first program year in 1998, has used the philosophy of community trusteeship — serving the primary needs of others by holding your community in trust. It is the “why” of Leadership Racine. Over these 20 years, the program has trained more than 500 servant leaders and continues to help develop individuals to have a lifelong commitment to community.
Servant leadership, a concept that was defined by Robert K. Greenleaf in 1970, places the leader’s focus on serving others first. Leadership Racine teaches community trusteeship by intertwining lessons on being a servant leader. The servant leadership model emphasizes increased service to others, a holistic approach to work, promoting a sense of community and the sharing of power in decision-making.
Leadership Racine is a nine-month program with each session highlighting one or more of the servant leadership traits. These traits are: listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and building community. Over the nine months, program participants immerse themselves in learning how to apply these traits in their community service as well as in their professional lives.
Although these servant leadership characteristics often occur naturally within many individuals, they can be enhanced through learning and practice. Some people you may think of as servant leaders include Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.
But you can also find many companies who have integrated servant leadership into their corporate cultures. In fact, servant leadership plays a role in the work place in the listing of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” provided annually by Fortune Magazine. Some of those companies include Starbucks, Aflac and Men’s Wearhouse.
Here are some recommended servant leadership practices that an individual can apply to their daily personal and professional life from the book “The Essentials of Servant-Leadership: Principles in Practice” by Anne McGee-Cooper and Gary Looper:
Listen without judgment: When a team member, employee or volunteer comes to you with a concern, listen first to understand. Repeat back what you thought you heard and your understanding of the person’s feelings. Then ask how you can help. Listening also encompasses hearing one’s own inner voice and is essential to the growth of the servant leader.
Build community: Find ways to show appreciation for those who work with you. Servant leaders find ways to thank team members for everyday, routine work that can often be taken for granted. Create frequent celebrations. Enjoy recreational activities together to help get to know each other in a broader and deeper sense. This will help build a foundation of trust and friendship that is critical in high-performance teams.
Growth of people: Take time to help others develop and grow into higher levels of leadership. Provide others with opportunities to attend meetings they would not usually be invited to or find projects that you can co-lead while coaching them along the way. Taking an interest in the ideas and suggestions of everyone and encouraging involvement in decision-making are all good practices of the servant leader.
The Leadership Racine program, in its 20th year, will continue to use the servant leadership traits to build community trusteeship through the development of strong, diverse and knowledgeable leaders. The curriculum of the program translates into individuals’ personal and professional lives and has proven to provide benefits that are far-reaching.
For additional Leadership Racine program details visit www.racinechamber.com/leadership-racine.