Over the past 20 years, I have reviewed and conducted research related to high-performing organizations. In each of these high-performing organizations (mainly educational entities), the leadership consisted of individuals who embodied “servant leadership” in their words and actions. Charism, a commanding presence, visionary goals, and elite pedigrees are admirable, but these characteristics are not the common factor in successful organizations.

Servant leaders are those who promote, as Rotary International does, “service above self.” These successful leaders are people-centric, value service to others and consider their work stewardship or a vocation. Servant leaders are passionate, humble, detail-oriented types who have a longer-than-average tenure in organizations. Many of these leaders remember what it is like to work on the line, in the trenches, or the classroom.

Four North County servant leaders joined me in facilitating a “Leadership North County” workshop on December 7, 2018, in Atascadero. This Chamber of Commerce-sponsored series of workshops addresses topical community issues designed to cultivate, inspire, connect, and empower an effective community of leaders. The Atascadero Economic Foundation, Atascadero and Paso Robles Chambers of Commerce, and other community-minded organizations support Leadership North County.

December’s workshop focused on youth and education. Servant leadership begins early in the education system and this workshop explored our local school system from many different angles. Participants joined interactive discussions, educational facility tours and were able to ask organizational leadership questions of North County superintendents, the Paso Robles Youth Arts Foundation, the Paso Robles Culinary Academy, Cuesta College Dean Dr. Maria Escobedo and Cuesta College President/Superintendent Dr. Jill Stearns.

During the keynote on leadership, I referenced seven orchestral conductors to illustrate “servant leadership.” The leaders highlighted believe that every employee should be treated with respect, have access to meaningful work and be encouraged to achieve excellence. Servant leaders live the “golden rule” and understand that they serve not only the organization but the stakeholder of the organization. It is an honor to serve as your county superintendent of schools.

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