Written by Guadalupe Broetje, RISE Scholars Coordinator
There is always a time to impact communities through spreading the message of servant-leadership. How can today’s leaders look to serve the most basic needs of their employees and ensure they are caring for the least of these first?
In December, I reconnected with FirstFruits alum, Kaw Gay, who graduated with his AA in Criminal Justice from Columbia Basin College this past spring. I learned that he fulfilled one of his lifelong goals to join the Navy. Last November, he got his first assignment, landing planes on the SS Roosevelt. Before heading back to where he is stationed, Kaw and his fiancée Day Day stopped by to visit. It was a great time of reconnecting with an old friend and making new ones. During their visit I learned that Day Day, a recent college graduate with a degree in International Business, had just accepted a job with a major US company in Olympia, WA. Upon hearing this, I seized the opportunity to introduce her to Robert Greenleaf’s work and gave her a copy of The Servant as Leader. I explained to her our commitment at Broetje Family Trust to live and teach the ethic of Christ-centered service through servant leadership development. My hope was that she would read the book and find ways to implement it into her work; furthering our desire to nurture servant leaders inside and outside of our organization.
At year end, I was working on my annual report, and I wanted to share the story of reconnecting with Kaw. I reached out to Day Day to ask if she had any photos of Kaw in his Navy uniform, knowing that she would be easier to reach than him. To my surprise, Day Day said she had been reading The Servant as Leader and was greatly impacted by it. She shared that the part about Acceptance and Empathy stood out most to her. When asked why, she reflected:
“There are a couple things I can do to show empathy towards my co-workers and the employees I manage. Listening is important. It is more important than talking when dealing with issues in the leadership regardless the industry. Also, I need to keep in mind that I need to not be biased, not be information selective, and to learn to lead from the inside to fully understand others’ feelings. Accept the situation, accept different people. Accepting differences is important because we all must understand and see that we live in a diverse country. I think building this quality of acceptance and empathy will prepare me for global awareness as well.”