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Embracing Servant Leadership

May 21, 2024

Leadership Lesson: Embracing Servant Leadership

This month’s Leadership Lesson is authored by Julia Pacilli.


In today’s fast-paced and competitive world, the concept of leadership continues to evolve. One style or approach that has gained some popularity over the last few decades is servant leadership. The style emphasizes serving others first, even when someone is in a leadership role. At its core, servant leadership flips the traditional top-down leadership paradigm over, emphasizing the leader’s role as a servant to their team or community. Servant leaders prioritize the needs and well-being of others, fostering an environment of trust, collaboration, and empowerment.

Servant leadership examples can be found in many religious and ministry organizations. It can also be found in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). Founded in 1910 on principles of character development, citizenship, and service, the BSA instills servant leadership values in its members as young as 5 years old. Through its programs and initiatives, the BSA cultivates a culture where leadership is synonymous with service. I have learned this first-hand over the last decade of volunteering in several areas of the organization as well as through my son’s journey from a Tiger Cub Scout through to earning his Eagle Scout rank this year.

In the Boy Scouts, leadership positions are not simply titles of authority but opportunities to serve and support fellow Scouts. Whether leading a hike or camping trip, organizing a community service project, or mentoring younger members, Scouts learn firsthand the importance of putting others first and leading with humility and compassion.

Scouts strive to live by the Scout Oath and Law. The Scout Oath reads “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.” The Scout Law states that “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.” These values reflect the core tenets of servant leadership and guide Scouts and Scouters (adult leaders) in their interactions with others both within and outside the organization in everyday life.

Beyond Scouting, servant leadership has been associated with positive outcomes such as employee engagement and satisfaction as well as organizational success. Whether in business, government, or nonprofit organizations, leaders who prioritize the needs of others and lead with integrity are more likely to inspire trust, foster collaboration, and achieve sustainable success. These leaders create more inclusive, supportive, and empowering environments that foster growth and success for all involved.

No matter what role you hold at work, at home, or in the community, try to embrace the principles of servant leadership and lead with purpose, compassion, and a steadfast commitment to serving others.