10 Core Competencies of Servant Leadership and Philanthropic Institutions


You cannot buy engagement, and you will pay for disengagement.”

Adele du Rand, Professional speaker

Servant-Leadership and Philanthropic Institutions by John C. Burkhardt and Larry C. Spears represent chapter five of the book we are using as a guide, Practicing Servant-Leadership: Succeeding Through Trust, Bravery, and Forgiveness by Larry C. Spears and Michelle Lawrence.

In this chapter, Burkhardt and Spears discuss the ever growing and evolving field of philanthropy including the ever changing society in which these institutions seek to serve. Robert Greenleaf had some ideas about the roles of service and leadership within philanthropic institutions and he believed, as I do, that service and leadership and interdependent, symbiotic and connected.

They mention the characteristics of servant leadership; Listening, empathy, healing, persuasion, awareness, foresight, conceptualization, commitment to the growth of the people, stewardship, and building community with regard to and in alignment with philanthropic institutions. Here is a re-cap of each.


Philanthropic institutions must show the way forward and listen not only to themselves but to listen, and even amplify the voices of those they serve that go unheard.


Foundations and other grants-making organizations must be ever careful that within their role of judging grant proposals (most times way more than they can fund) that they don’t lose sight of the people who have a need and to maintain this empathetic connection between the people who have the influence and the people who are being served.


Healing in this context refers to the healing of one’s self first. Greenleaf challenged us to heal internally from the isms in the world (racism, sexism, etc.) and to provide access to opportunity, promote and engage in peace, and to build community. He said these efforts cannot happen if we have not addressed them both internally and externally. Indeed, philanthropic institutions have the responsibility in the ongoing press of reconciliation.


Foundations must rely on leadership that works by influencing people through moral power and not through coercion and positional authority.


Philanthropic institutions must rely more on the awareness of perception to a greater level than ever before. Greenleaf spoke about the leaders as the seeker and in the grants-making world, awareness is a more evolved way to work (and judge grant proposal) rather than to just rely on objectivity, detachment, and expert knowledge. Awareness is at the next level of consciousness than these.


For philanthropic institutions, foresight is the most important servant leadership characteristic to possess for just as the original donor employed foresight in leaving an endowment and/or money for the future of service, the institution must commit to resources now, not thinking about the present day but using foresight considering the future of its work and service.


Conceptualization is about grant-making institutions making meaning of its work and service to society. In this context vision and conceptualization are seen as a process in which the leaders and followers arrive at the decision together. Conceptualization should be seen as the way for the institution and not merely a skill of the leader.

Commitment to the Growth of the People

As philanthropic institutions shift their consciousness from seeing its philanthropic investments as commitments to the people, rather than the problem, they will perceive their work in a different way, a new conceptualization. And Greenleaf called this new way of seeing it as a “high calling.”


The role of philanthropies is to, as Peter Block said, “hold something in trust for another.” What this means is that wealthy individuals gave their wealth to trusted organizations to act responsibly in serving and healing the world. Stewardship must directly impact the decisions that institutions make as stewards of endowments. In other words, keep the original vision of the endowment while operating in today’s context of need, all for the people.

Building Community

Philanthropic institutions must work together in purpose and as clear vehicles of internal cohesion if they are to be of service. Greenleaf says it plainly, “Am I connected?” Modern philanthropic institutions must live and work in a holistic and integrated way so that that remain, “On the growing edge of the contemporary phase of history but still connected to the main body of people and events. This is what community building is all about, staying connected to the people.


At the end of the day, philanthropic institutions and organizations have the greatest challenge as they serve and heal the world. Their challenge is to set the intention (create a vision) for their communities that go far beyond their approach, creating access for people, and contact. It’s all about engagement. Burkhardt and Spears put it this way, “The sense of community envisioned by Greenleaf does not tolerate much self-interest, nor does it provide much in the way of shelter from real relationships, with real people in real situations.


To Engagement,

Dr. Crystal


Servant Leadership and Trust

Antrustimagesnouncement: We begin our summer review of the book, The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything by Stephen M. R. Covey. Covey discusses five waves of trust, and we will look at each one in detail. I hope that you are enjoying your summer and I look forward to your continued support!

“Our distrust is very expensive.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Stephen Covey (Stephen R. Covey’s son) defines trust in his book, The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything as something that, “You know when you feel it.”

Trust in relationships is built on confidence. If you have confidence in a person, perhaps a boss, a coworker, a family member, or friend, the relationship feels good, there is good communication, you can get tasks done quickly, and you enjoy the relationship.

On the other hand, if you are involved in a low-trust relationship, it may feel like communication is broken, things do not get done quickly, there are constant misunderstandings, and the relationship is tedious, cumbersome, and draining. Indeed, there are many differences between high and low-trust relationships.

Organizationally speaking, trust within companies and businesses has declined. Recent research shows:

  • Only 51% of employees have trust and confidence in management and leadership.
  • Just about 36% of employees believe their managers, supervisors, and leaders act with honesty and integrity.
  • A whopping 76% of employees have witnessed illegal or unethical behavior on the job. Behavior that if exposed, would violate the public trust.
  • The number one reason why people leave their jobs is due to a bad relationship with a boss.

What can be done about increasing trust on the job? Cynics often ask if trust can be measured. Can trust be seen as an economic driver? Well, Covey makes the case that it can. Trust affects two outcomes; speed and cost.

This insight says that when trust goes down, speed will also go down, and costs will go up.

↓     Trust     =     ↓     Speed     ↑    Cost

Conversely, when trust goes up, speed will also go up, and costs will go down.

↑     Trust     =     ↑     Speed     ↓     Cost

Covey illustrates this through the example of post 9/11 and the new security processes put in place at airports across the country. Clearly, we need the extra security measures to protect safety. However, it slowed down the process and increased the cost to fly.

Covey goes further to say that trust is a function of character and competence. Both aspects are important to trust as character involves one’s integrity, motives, and intentions while competence includes your skills, results, track record, and capabilities. Covey makes a serious and noteworthy claim that the character side of trust is, “fast becoming the price of entry in the new global economy.”

Think about it. People trust people who make things happen.

Leaders give the promising projects or sales leads to those who have performed in the past.

Universities give the new curriculum to the most competent instructors.

Students who show promising skills get the coveted internships.

Servant-Leaders understand the balance between character and competence. These are the foundational building blocks of trust. Through the 5 Waves of Trust (Self-Trust, Relationship Trust, Organizational Trust, Market Trust, and Societal Trust). Servant- Leaders can build stronger, sustainable relationships, provide more opportunities, envision better outcomes, and have fun! What a concept!

Servant – Leaders know from a deep well within that trust impacts everything in one’s life. The way you lead, establish, grow, restore, and extend the one thing that changes the game- And that my friends, is trust.

To Trust,

Dr. Crystal

The Next Right Move


This is what I know for sure; I am here to raise the consciousness of the planet.”

~Oprah Winfrey

Announcement: This is my last post before my son and I embark on a road trip to Kansas for summer vacation.  I will resume summer posting two weeks from today. Happy June!

As I was thinking about what to write about today, I came across Oprah Winfrey’s talk at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, “Oprah Winfrey on Career, Life, and Leadership.” Wow. Talk about a fascinating story of Servant Leadership! It was the most powerful hour of enlightenment that I have possibly ever experienced. She is the epitome of a Servant-Leader.

Last week, I talked about the 10 core competencies of Servant Leadership. Oprah’s talk echoed those competencies as she spoke about her life, her career, her mistakes, her successes, and what she has learned.

What I took away from the talk was the greatest lesson of all for emerging Servant-Leaders; Servant –Leaders who are self-actualized KNOW the change they are to make in the world. They are here to raise the consciousness of the planet.

Let that truth soak in for a moment.

Oprah reminded us of the truth of who we are. She said;

  • Always listen to your inner voice
  • Being fuels doing, not the other way around
  • Pay attention to your life and the life of others
  • Work on yourself; Always keep yourself full first
  • Know who you are and know what to do with who you are

Isn’t this the life and calling of Servant-Leaders? We are called to be keenly self-aware so that we can make a beneficial contribution to the greater world community. Without knowing who we are, we fail to help others see who they are.

Indeed, Servant-Leaders understand that there is, as Oprah said, “A supreme moment of destiny waiting for me.” Know it. Feel it. OWN it.

Take an hour in this or the next 24 hours to watch the talk.

I promise you, you will feel empowered and inspired to continue on your journey as a Servant-Leader. It is located at http://bit.ly/12Dnh0C

To Oprah,

Dr. Crystal

Servant Leadership – Robert K. Greenleaf

Robert K. Greenleaf advanced the servant leadership through his writings, his life, and his work. Greenleaf espoused his ideology about servant leadership through his work The Servant as Leader.  Robert Greenleaf‘s (1904-1990) introduction of servant leadership came through his work at AT&T.  Greenleaf initially started at AT&T as a lineman digging postholes and retired in 1964 as Director of Management Research.  Greenleaf confirmed in his writings the observation of a decrease in creative and critical thinking at work.  People were separating themselves from their work.

In his work on management, Greenleaf noted that people desired to align personal growth with his or her work.  This was not a comfortably embraced concept by the workplace or education at the time.  Therefore, after his retirement, Greenleaf began a second career, which lasted 25 years, as a consultant educating institutions, churches, and businesses.  Greenleaf served as a consultant to major organizations, such as the American Foundation for Management Research, and Lilly Endowment Incorporation.  Greenleaf gained valuable insight into management practices, challenges, and practitioner insight while working as a consultant.  Because of these insights, Greenleaf started the Center for Applied Ethics in 1964, (renamed the Center for Servant Leadership in Indianapolis, Indiana).

Greenleaf said his servant leadership theory was crystallized by the novel, Journey to the East, a work that deeply moved Greenleaf.  In the story, the servant, Leo, was the caring leader.  Leo’s leadership style was that of a caring spirit such that the people claimed that they did everything themselves.  On the journey, Leo disappeared.  The group fell apart and abandoned the spiritual quest.  The group realized they needed Leo.  Years later, the narrator found Leo and learned Leo was accepted as the head of the noble order.  The narrator had only known Leo as a servant.  Indeed, Leo was a great and noble leader.  A leader who exemplifies servant leadership, such as Leo, can see the effect of his or her leadership through the growth of the people.  Greenleaf defined servant leaders as passing a test if the people are wiser, freer, and healthier.  If the people served by the leader become servant leaders, the leader is a practitioner of servant leadership.

This story provided the foundation for Greenleaf’s servant leadership theory.  Greenleaf’s interpretation of the story was the key to the servant leader’s greatness, which is the willingness to serve first.  Other of Greenleaf’s writings highlighted his commitment to grassroots organizations that worked on issues of social injustices of that time.  Apparent in his writings was his commitment to the Judeo Christian and Quaker faith.  Greenleaf was a member of the Society of Friends (Quakers) in 1935 and wrote an unpublished manuscript related to his faith.