Learning from a Servant Leader

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When I think about Condoleezza Rice, I think about her as a dynamic leader.  She is a black woman, who grew up in the Birmingham, Alabama, and became the 66th Secretary of State to the United States.  The odds were stacked against her, but she overcame those odds and broke through all of the barriers that society tried to put in her way.  She invested her time and energy into the people she loved and her passions.  What was apparent to me is that she did not learn this on her own, but followed the example of her parents.  Her parents invested their hearts and souls into their daughter and their community, and they demonstrated what it was to be a leader.  I can relate to this because my father did the same; he showed me what is important to becoming a leader.  My Dad is a servant leader, and I have learned so many important lessons from him.


My Dad and I at graduation

A servant leader defined by Robert Greenleaf

Servant leadership is a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world

Some of the lessons my Dad taught me are

  • Empathy
  • Healing
  • Commitment to the Growth of People
  • Response to Failure
  • Follow my Dreams

Growing up I traveled with him when he did medical work overseas.  It taught me to appreciate people from all around the world and to empathize with others.  He utilized his skills to help bring change to communities that may not look like the community where I was born and raised or where he was born and raised.  Also, he taught me that people are important.    It is about a team effort because one person cannot do everything.  They invest time and energy into understanding and caring about the people who are working toward the same goal.  Some of the best leaders surround themselves with people who are smarter and wiser than themselves.



Bogota, Colombia

The other big lesson he taught me is to have a positive and resilient response to failure.  He always tells me to never quit and to always keep trying.  I think that is important for leaders because sometimes situations can be difficult.  He says to get back up, make a new plan, and try again.  John C. Maxwell writes about people’s responses to failure in his book Falling Forward (audio book). 

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Having a supportive parent is a blessing and has taught me some of the most important lessons in life.  Being a leader is not always easy, but it is necessary.  Finally, my Dad taught me to never quit on my dreams; to go after them no matter what. He always sends me inspiring videos and quotes and this is one of the videos he sent me from the Pursuit of Happiness. And below is one of his favorite quotes.

The battle doesn’t always go to the stronger or faster man, but most of the time the victory is won by the one who thinks he can.

Reviewed by Sholpan Zhaksybaeva