Greenleaf Conference on Servant Leadership: Kiwanis Key Leader Program

From seven sessions offered on Thursday afternoon, I chose a session introducing the Kiwanis Key Leader Program.

The presenters arranged for nineteen high school juniors to join us for the session, and they began small group activities (such as would be used on Friday afternoon of the weekend program) while the attendees heard from the program sponsors and presenters. The idea of sharing the program in microcosm with students and adults seems effective.

The eleven attending adults were from four continents, and thoroughly enjoyed watching the students working through the activities. The presentation included a concise and informative introduction to Robert K. Greenleaf’s life and work.

Here’s an overview of the Key Leader Program.

The three questions in Key Leader test parallels Greenleaf’s central teaching (and the guiding questions for Kiwanis):

1. Is what I’m doing helping others to become strong and more independent?
2. Do others or does the organization become better because of what I’m doing?
3. Do my actions help others in my community?

A brief excerpt from the movie Babe (where Babe tries to be a sheepdog) provided an excellent extension of the discussion about leadership styles and approaches. Participants next worked individually, then in groups, to generate nominees for a new “Nobel Prize in Servant Leadership,” with nominees in three categories:

  • Servant leaders not personally known by attendees: nominees ranged from Angelina Jolie to Lance Armstrong to Bill Gates, each for a different philanthropic emphasis;
  • Servant leaders personally known by the attendees: ranged from a grandmother for community work to Atlanta’s mayor to a teacher;
  • Community leaders: could be anyone, and might be one of us, illustrating the lesson that key leadership is for everyone.

The exercise leading into a personal integrity lesson involved the participants in a square and the moderator in the center. The moderator proposed himself as the point of a compass, and asked participants how they should react (e.g. move) as he turned to face another direction of the square. The moderator connected the lesson of integrity to this compass showing direction in the way our values influence the direction of our character and lives, then guided the students in identifying and prioritizing core values of their lives.

The presenters were generous with program information, giving each attendee a student program book and other information about this valuable program.

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