March 19, 2001
By Eric Rangus firstname.lastname@example.org
When it was first created two years ago, the Center for Ethics
Ethics and Servant Leadership (EASL) forum sought to integrate teaching,
research and service in a mentoring environment for students.
Now, through EASL staff members and proactive representatives of the
Employee Council, the progressive theories behind servant leadership are
being introduced to a very large and diverse group of workers: University
Service leadership really tries to bring the attitude of service
to a leadership role, said Mary Sue Brookshire, EASL program associate.
It has in mind serving those directly around you as well as serving
the community youre in.
Servant leadership sprung from a theory by businessman Robert Greenleaf
in the 1960s. Rather than utilizing a traditional, hierarchical leadership
structure, servant leadership focuses on a sharing of power. It emphasizes
a holistic approach to work, promotes a sense of community and stresses
service to others.
Youre trying to empower people around you instead of creating
a single, powerful figure at the top, said Melissa Snarr, EASL director.
Its hardly a hokey, left-field idea, either. Several companies
listed in Fortune magazines 100 Best Companies to Work For,
such as AFLAC and Southwest Airlines, utilize servant leaderships
Emory first explored servant leadership in the 1980s through a program
in the theology school. The ethics center picked it back up with the creation
And while the marriage of EASL with Employee Council would appear to
be an ideal fit, the whole connection may not have happened without the
efforts of Julia Leon, a council representative from the Information Technology
Leon had read an essay by Greenleaf and, upon learning of EASLs
existence, contacted Brookshire about working together. In February, Employee
Council hosted a brown bag luncheon with Bob Hascall, senior associate
vice president of Facilities Management, to discuss the issue. More than
Snarr said she hopes to put together another brown bag in April, and
plans are in the works to bring to campus Jim Blanchard, CEO of Synovus
Financial, to discuss servant leadership in his multibillion-dollar company.
One thing is for sure: the relationship between EASL and Employee Council
is going along smoothlyeven if no one is willing to take the credit.
Its been fabulous, Leon said. [EASL] would probably
want to give us all the credit, but they have really done all the work.
Sure enough, in the spirit of shared leadership, Leons comment
is right on the mark.
I give all the credit to Julia and [council President-Elect] Bill
[McBride], Brookshire said. They put all the sweat equity
into this. We are privileged to be partners with them.
Before this recent outreach to University staff, EASLs primary
clientele has been Emory students.
The challenge is trying to interpret servant leadership in an educational
context, Brookshire said. This new initiative with Employee
Council is probably the closest thing we do that actually mirrors the
way its happened in business.
The forum works with about 25 students a year and provides 10-12 summer
internships. Snarr said she has received 35 applications for this summers