Mentoring has been a longstanding practice that is built and strengthened on the basis of mentor-mentee relationships. It involves the reciprocal process of teaching and learning strategic skills and developing timeless qualities, and it is widespread for mentors to have proteges for life and help them with multiple aspects of life, ranging from professional life to personal relationships. Thus, instead of learning through trial and error, having a mentor can be helpful for having a role model whose life perspective and career steps can be a follower or imitated. A mentor assumes the advisor and the role model position, which can enable another person’s personal and professional advancement. Through helping to set goals and giving feedback, a mentor has an ongoing influence on a mentee’s progress, which can be continuously adjusted based on areas for improvement or shifting perspectives.
Besides providing knowledge and helping set attainable professional or personal development goals, mentors can play a crucial role in maintaining accountability. Because of the need to track progress consistently for achievement evaluation, having a mentor is essential for ensuring that a mentee does not forget or abandon their established goals. Knowing that someone else is watching as there to support and give advice is very motivating because the mentee likely does not want to let their mentor down by failing to meet the goals set together. Besides, mentors are essential for offering encouragement to their mentees, especially when they struggle to perform their jobs or reach goals. Extrinsic motivation can be helpful to persevere and move forward despite the barriers. In addition, a mentor can be instrumental in identifying and expressing the mentee’s strengths and competencies to instill a feeling of confidence in them. This sense of confidence can make mentees believe in themselves and not give up on their goals.
It is also vital to note that mentor-mentee relationships are based on trust and reciprocal exchange of thoughts and ideas. Thus, when a person has an idea, they can use a mentor as a resource for discussing its implementation and steps that should be taken. The mentor will often provide unbiased advice and opinions using the knowledge and experiences they have gathered during their career. With full insights, the mentee can better understand how their idea can be accomplished or whether it can be accomplished. If not, that means that the project should be abandoned in pursuit of something new and exciting.
Similarly, if a project is already being implemented, a mentor can listen to their mentee and advise on daily concerns such as procedural challenges or teammate conflicts. Therefore, the transparent exchange of information between mentors and mentees can help establish guidelines and professional expectations. For instance, it is possible to clarify the priorities and the role of best practices that will benefit the experience of a mentee. Practical work habits are necessary to increase the levels of productivity, which are associated with better leadership and organizational skills in the future.
The Leadership Mentorship: Running a Non-Profit and Maintaining Accountability
The goal of leadership mentorship is to provide mentees with an understanding of what constitutes great leadership. A mentor is intended to lead their mentees by using soft leadership skills to communicate effectively and encourage them to move forward. Hard leadership is also important in such a scenario because it enables mentees to be accountable for their actions necessary to achieve real progress. The way the mentor coaches and guides mentees through both approaches to leadership enables mentees to learn about people management, how it is to be treated by a ‘superior,’ and identify which methods of support and encouragement bring out the best in them.
The leadership mentorship with Daniel Linson, an Associate Pastor at Metro Church and a Senior Consultant and Advisor at Intervarsity USA, entailed discussing the process of running a Christian non-profit organization and maintaining accountability. On a regular basis, citizens get inspired to start non-profits to help serve their communities. However, creating and sustaining such an organization is not easy and requires commitment and dedication to one’s vision. The conversations with Mr. Linson revealed that running a non-profit organization and maintaining accountability was based on several important practices. Specifically, it is necessary to have a code of ethics and a statement of values, facilitate ethical fundraising, conduct leadership ethically, show financial transparency and good governance policies, as well as have internal controls. When discussing opening a non-profit organization, Mr. Lison stated that I had to educate myself on the legal requirements for conduct. Specifically, the IRS mandates that charitable non-profits operate only for the benefit of public interest and for the sake of social benefit. Besides, there are some state laws that may apply to addressing transparency and accountability practices. For instance, some states have legislation that dictates how non-profit corporation procedures must be carried out, especially regarding issues such as conflicts of interest or laws.
Therefore, being a leader of a non-profit organization does not only entail having servant leadership skills and being dedicated to one’s mission but also includes knowledge in the legal and ethical areas to ensure that there is no conflict. Accountability and transparency are both crucial aspects of running a business in the non-profit sphere as they enable leaders to set high expectations for their work (Ortega-Rodríguez et al., 2020). Accountability refers to the willingness or obligation of an organization to explain its actions to key stakeholders. Transparency represents the obligation or willingness of a non-profit to make available key data about an organization. Mr. Linson said that he believed that both accountable and transparent non-profits are more likely to act with integrity and learn from their mistakes. This is because it is crucial to show donors that an organization is trustworthy and it is safe to donate money to it. Thus, it is necessary that a leader of such an entity follows good practices related to governance and establishes good relationships with a diverse group of partners, which reduces the likelihood of engaging in unethical or irresponsible activities.
Conversations with Mr. Linson shed light on what it means to be a leader of a non-profit, with essential insights being offered from experience. Leading a non-profit requires a deep understanding of strong leadership skills as well as organizational structure. The mentor said there are many similarities between the corporate model when it comes to the structure of non-profits as there is a need to have a robust chain of command, especially on the large scale. When Mr. Linson worked at a small local organization, he said that its model was different because of the lower number of workers as well as fewer responsibilities. Nevertheless, a non-profit has to have an executive director who is in charge of the operations and bears responsibility for creating and enforcing the central vision. As a leader and an inspirational figure, the director will recruit and supervise workers, maintain productive relationships with other major players, and create a plan of fundraising that ensures sustainability and an appropriate way of managing finances.
Moreover, the executive director is often responsible for creating a positive organizational climate and relevant processes. There is immense power in the hands of executive directors as they are the ones who will define the nature of work and the environment established within the work setting. As executive directors assume the lead in establishing an organization’s climate and processes related to it, assuming control is important for influencing staff morale, the engagement of board members, as well as the overall perceptions of funders.
An important part of the conversations with Mr. Linson was dedicated to the complex processes of hiring, managing, and retaining personnel within a non-profit context. The mentor said that a non-profit organization could only be as strong and effective as its staff, which is why it is crucial to have a thoughtful approach toward leadership and making well-informed decisions when it comes to hiring new workers. Mr. Linson said that the mentorship experience will involve me having to hire team members for a project and that I had to understand that hiring someone was not the end goal. Once a team is put in place, it is crucial to facilitate an environment of mutual respect and commitment to the non-profits’ mission and agenda (TSNE, 2021). Whether one finds themselves in the role of a small-team supervisor or a moderately-sized organization, a leader is responsible for overseeing the entire staff, managing their performance, and facilitating retention. For example, an organizational leader will carefully construct and communicate job descriptions to help align with the non-profit’s goals and objectives. This will help keep all employees well-informed, dedicated, and adaptable, which is expected to bring more excellent organizational results. With the help of well-defined roles and responsibilities, it is possible to set specific expectations to aid in goal achievement.
Mr. Linson said that leadership comes with the need sometimes to resolve conflicts and address problems of miscommunication or the lack of dedication. Therefore, it is crucial that a leader provides a positive environment in which the needs of workers are being met. For instance, workers will expect to have health insurance and paid vacation time alongside with additional benefits such as childcare or pre-tax incentives. Besides addressing workers’ financial needs, it is also important to express gratitude and appreciation for the team’s accomplishments. The gestures of appreciation are expected to boost employee confidence in their work and commitment to the organizational vision and mission. Servant leaders are also tasked with helping individuals grow, which means that they can assume the role of mentors assisting employees in meeting their career aspirations and achieving goals (Eva et al., 2019). In return, a leader’s encouragement and support will result in high levels of respect and loyalty.
Finally, Mr. Linson introduced the topic of technology use as a facilitator of non-profits’ success. He noted that in comparison to for-profit corporations, non-profits do not have the vast resources to invest in operations, making it more challenging to meet the goals and align with their missions. Thus, by making the best use of available technologies, non-profit organizations can operate more efficiently. It is common for donations received by organizations to be inconsistent from one financial quarter to the next, which makes it difficult to ensure high levels of sustainability. Technologies are necessary for improving efficiency, which can directly influence the volumes of work that non-profits can do, taking into account the limited resources that they actually have. Using technologies allows us to work smarter rather than harder, and non-profit teams can wisely use this as an advantage to meeting future needs, which can help to prioritize time, the available budget, and workforce processes.
Because non-profits usually set the goal of reaching as many people as possible, technologies are valuable tools for organizations to expand the reach in the services they provide, thus increasing capacity when serving a target population. In addition, choosing the right technology will help non-profits significantly increase their revenue. For example, Mr. Linson said that more and more donors started supporting their non-profits using electronic methods, which often saves employees time when it comes to having formal face-to-face meetings for requesting donations. Besides, in the age of high technological integration, donors, stakeholders, and non-profit workers prefer communicating electronically because it is time-efficient and convenient on both ends. Electronic communication has become a means to facilitate non-profits’ success in terms of work efficiency and the quality of information exchange.
A significant challenge associated with technology use in non-profit organizations concerns information collection and usage. Non-profits often have to collect specific types of personal and business information from donors and members. Because this information is important for work, there is an increased responsibility to protect it, and technologies can help achieve this goal. Today, cybersecurity measures have increasingly advanced, thus allowing to reduce the risks of information being revealed or stolen. For example, with the help of cloud-based solutions, it is possible to safeguard donor and member data and reduce the risks of losing important documents and databases.
Overall, the work of a non-profit organization’s leader encompasses a range of processes and issues that need to be addressed. Ranging from forming a team that will work together toward the accomplishment of a set goal to legal and privacy issues, a leader must be well-versed in various topics that concern the procedures at non-profit organizations. An effective leader who cares about the outcomes of their work within an entity, the aim of which is helping communities, is also expected to develop a personal and professional philosophy to facilitate the adherence to ethical principles and expectations of accountability and transparency. Mr. Linson said that one of the objectives of the leadership mentorship experience was to help me develop my own philosophical perspective by reflecting on the new information and skills acquired throughout the process. The following sections of the paper will include a reflection on the mentorship experience as well as the exploration of the leadership approach and philosophy.
Reflection on the Mentorship Experience
The mentorship experience occurred in the course of eight weeks, entailing in-depth and pre-scheduled meetings with Daniel Linson, an Associate Pastor at Metro Church and a Senior Consultant and Advisor at Intervarsity USA. The experience evolved gradually, starting with an introductory one-hour meeting with Mr. Linson aimed at discussing his experience and leadership background, identifying general goals for the mentorship, as well as deciding on ways of communication and feedback. Besides, the mentor communicated his role in great detail, including consulting, planning, leadership development, coordination of activities, as well as the development of the general organizational strategy. In my opinion, the importance of the introductory meeting with Mr. Linson was in identifying the main skills needed to establish practical leadership skills and competencies. I was put on a spot and asked to think about the main goals I wanted to meet by the end of the mentorship. I recognized that I wanted to become more resilient when working with various people and managing them while also developing compassion and the ability to sympathize with people.
As the introductory phase of the mentorship had been carried out, Mr. Linson started engaging me in the process of learning and information acquisition. He gave me an abundance of resources from which I could learn and prepare for discussions and seminars. For instance, from Patrick Lencioni’s article in Harvard Business Review, I learned about the importance of organizational values for developing strong leadership and a workforce that shares the same vision and mission. Using the example of Enron, which set such corporate values as quality, innovation, and teamwork, Lencioni (2002) stated that beyond identifying values, companies had to act on them and show them in action. Therefore, while many companies are capable of using grand language and beautifully communicating their vision, mission, and values, if there is no action behind words, they are meaningless (Lencioni, 2002). The article opened my eyes and taught me that all values come with losses and painful decisions; otherwise, there is no point in formulating them in the first place.
Besides Lencioni’s article, Mr. Linson advised to read Cafferky’s (2015) Business Ethics in Biblical Perspective: A Comprehensive Introduction. The beginning chapters of the book explore the theme of whether ethics is an important part of the organizational process and how the religious principles and values can be applied to a professional setting (Cafferky, 2015). Cafferky (2015) adamantly argues that the corporate environment is undergoing a crisis as the news is filled with stories of employees or executives acting unethically in business, and the situation is unlikely to be solved. The value of biblical story themes in relation to business is that they offer a unique way for people working in the organizational setting to saturate themselves with ideas of kindness and more robust morality (Cafferky, 2015). Reading the first chapters of the book, I have recognized the importance of having a non-judgmental view of the business environment to avoid unethical practices and be able to encourage positive attitudes and actions in others.
While it is not necessary to base all business decisions on Scripture, it provides a distinct differentiation between what is morally right and what is wrong, thus helping to continually keep in mind the kind and compassionate servant leadership of Jesus Christ. The increased interest in ethics in business now is associated with the repeated occurrence of ethical scandals, such as that of Enron, Arthur Anderson, or Adelphia Communications, which resulted in catastrophic consequences for companies (Cafferky, 2015). Learning about the failures of some organizations allowed me to recognize the value of corporate ethics and the need to pay attention to setting higher standards and expectations throughout my career. Upon reflecting on Cafferky’s (2015) and Lencioni’s (2002) findings on organizational values and ethical actions, I considered developing my own vision, mission, and value statements. For instance, I aspire to be people-oriented and progress-driven, get to know the people with whom I will work in the future, as well as create an environment in which my subordinates can use their strengths for ethically doing business.
Board Meetings Experience
As I acquired some knowledge from evidence-based practice and research literature, I got equipped with the knowledge necessary for practical work. Specifically, the mentorship with Mr. Linson entailed board meetings with a real organizational team that was discussing its next-quarter strategy and agenda-building. I have found immense value in the board meetings with the team because I could engage with its members as well as interview them. When asked about the leadership qualities that the team members valued, several of them quoted “good communication, resilience, empowerment, emotional intelligence, confidence, and honesty” as the core qualities of good leaders. Besides, several interviewees said that “integrity and authenticity were imperative to making me trust a leader and agree to follow them.” Therefore, a good leader is someone who can combine several crucial qualities and know how to use them to motivate others to pursue common goals despite the challenges and barriers that come along the way.
The interactions with the team were essential to my mentorship experience as they taught me the importance of flexibility both in collaboration and leadership. Interviews with some of the team members revealed that the success of an organization depends on the capacity of both leaders and team members to adapt to varied and complex situations as well as unpredictable changes in a specific industry or society in general. For example, the global crisis with the coronavirus pandemic challenged many companies to work in an environment of uncertainty and with lower profits (McKinsey & Company, 2021). Because of the issues that organizations endure on a regular basis, great leaders must be influential in ensuring that their followers can depend on them and see them as role models. At times when the future cannot be predicted and plans cannot be made, having a strong-willed and reliable leader is a great advantage to an organization. In many ways, leaders on whom followers can depend often approach their job from the servant perspective, which was explored in the next stage of my mentorship experience.
Exploring Servant Leadership
As the mentorship interactions with Mr. Linson progressed, we started covering the topic of servant leadership and how it can be applied in the context of non-profit organizations. The mentor assigned me to prepare an extensive presentation on what it means to be a servant leader. Researchers have recognized servant leadership as a philosophy of guiding and inspiring others through the application of principles of ethics, virtue, and morality (Saleem et al., 2020). The focus on bringing value to others instead of focusing on the personal agenda plays a crucial role in shifting the understanding of leadership from solely leading to achieving balance with serving at the same time (Saleem et al., 2020). Specifically, transformational and charismatic leaders like Martin Luther King or Steve Jobs can create extraordinary outcomes for their followers. However, the results of such a leadership style can be disastrous in the absence of moral and ethical limits, as illustrated in the examples of Jim Jones and Adolf Hitler (Saleem et al., 2020). Therefore, servant leadership is inspirational and implemented within the guidelines of moral safeguards (Saleem et al., 2020). Such a paradoxical function and style of leadership offers important mechanisms in the organizational setting to safeguard the business ethics of a company while also optimizing performance.
Upon my exploration of servant leadership, I discovered that leaders should not be seen in isolation from their followers as if they are standalone players who can only give commands. Instead, a servant leader shows high levels of in-role performance and commitment to organizational goals and exhibits community citizenship behaviors (Saleem et al., 2020). Robert Greenleaf’s essay “The Servant as a Leader” was essential for revealing the characteristics of servant leaders because it is a cornerstone of all studies into the issues and among the first philosophical works that show what it means to serve followers. Greenleaf (1970) writes, “[the servant-first] makes sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, and more likely to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society; will they benefit, or, at least, not be further deprived?” (p. 6). According to the author, servant leadership is not about being the best inspiration and acting effectively within the existing context. Instead, being a servant leader means considering what others want and what can be done to meet their needs to make them engaged in work and bring value to the teams. Besides, servant leadership comes with some degree of social responsibility, which is especially important in the context of non-profit organizations. I discovered that with the help of servant leadership, it is possible to foster a sense of community by improving the quality of relationships between leaders and their followers alongside other relevant stakeholders.
Reflecting on Strengths and Weaknesses
Reflecting on my newly acquired knowledge of servant leadership, I was asked to think about my strengths and weaknesses that should be considered in forming an approach to leading. At the time of the mentorship, I recognized that I was quite good at active listening, which is an essential servant leadership quality and self-awareness. Active leadership has been shown to facilitate a better quality of communication and relationships between leaders and their followers (Arendt et al., 2019). The intention behind active listening within the leadership framework is to fully understand what followers are communicating, including both spoken and nonverbal language. Self-awareness is also an important leadership trait and a component of emotional intelligence which refers to the ability of a person to identify and handle their emotions and impact the feelings of others. Developing self-awareness as a leader can improve not only one’s individual performance but also company’s effectiveness. The understanding, trustworthiness, and wisdom that self-aware leaders have can equip them with critical success skills.
On the downside, there are several disadvantages to me as a leader on which I should work in the future, as suggested by Mr. Lindon. Specifically, I have encountered issues when it terms of foresight and predicting. This disadvantage limits my capacity to become an effective servant leader because it may lead to an ethical failure. A serious moral compromise made by a leader may result in organizational failure as well as the inability to adjust within a highly competitive business environment. The lack of foresight is an ethical challenge because there is often time available to prevent upcoming challenges, although a leader may choose not to do so, thus acting unethically and to the detriment of their followers. For servant leaders, developing foresight and predicting skills is essential due to the need to cultivate environments that favor intuition and good deeds in both business-specific and social contexts. In addition to the lack of foresight, I determined that I could sometimes be unempathetic when trying to take on leadership positions within group environments. This is a problem that needs to be addressed throughout mentorship and further because empathy can improve emotional well-being and deepen connections by giving a leader insight into the thoughts and feelings of workers and an organization as a whole. Thus, a reflection on personal strengths and weaknesses from the servant leadership position allowed me to determine the qualities that can help me become a good leader and those that can become barriers and should be addressed.
The Shadowing Experience
Having an understanding of the skills and competencies necessary to make an effective servant leader, my mentorship experiences progressed further through shadowing. I would like to explore the role of shadowing; the process allows me to learn about the work approaches and cultures of different individuals and identify the parts of their work that can be replicated. The shadowed gets an opportunity to learn from the experiences of individuals being shadowed, see how others work and interact, as well as get exposed to the bigger picture of an organizational structure within which the shadowing takes place. Besides, Mr. Linson noted that shadowing increases the opportunity for shadows to reflect on their own experiences and brainstorm as a result of the newly acquired knowledge and skills. Observing Mr. Linson operating within the organizational context gave me an understanding of how he, as a leader, structures their work and interacts with the team. Important processes that he was completing included facilitating team meetings, drafting and discussing both short- and long-term objectives, as well as engaging in the initial stages of process planning, implementation, and the evaluation of results.
Reflecting on the outcomes of the shadowing, I have learned from Mr. Linson that leadership and team management are often hard, especially when it comes to engaging with people that have different perspectives on the same issue. Even though diverse perspectives and experiences of teammates can create some disagreements, Mr. Linson showed how this perceived disadvantage could be used to an organization’s advantage (Su, 2019). The combination of varied skills, backgrounds, and experiences can facilitate an exchange of unique ideas that cannot emerge in a segregated organizational environment. Mr. Linson explained that managing diversity can be complex, but finding a solution becomes very engaging due to the need to listen to different opinions and perspectives. Moreover, because our society is highly integrated and diverse, knowing how to lead within a dynamic and complex environment can be a great advantage in the long run. The work of an Associate Pastor and a Senior consultant, which Mr. Linson carried out, required an open-minded approach to leadership that considers various perspectives for creating solutions to arising community problems.
The following weeks with Mr. Linson were focused on meeting specific objectives, and I did not have much time to reflect on the experience until now. At the beginning of the mentorship, we set the goal of developing and planning a youth engagement workshop to take place in September of this year. Therefore, I had to assume leadership and team management responsibilities to delve right into the planning. Specifically, I had to complete such tasks as assembling a team, choosing appropriate promotion vectors, as well as developing a prototype for a social media advertising plan. At its core, event leadership can run into a vast number of problems because there are many factors that must be considered. For example, there are always time constraints that limit the capacity of a leader or manager to control each process. Besides, if there is a failure to allocate the right resources and skills necessary for accomplishing set goals, pitfalls are guaranteed.
Drawing from the experience of shadowing Mr. Linson and researching leadership throughout the process of assembling a team for the youth engagement workshop, I set the expectation that everything will not go smoothly. However, I categorized each task based on its level of importance, set long- and short-term objectives, as well as proactively sought to exhibit emotionally intelligent conduct when working with others. For example, when selecting team members, I set the long-term goal of gathering a diverse team that can provide different perspectives and skills to address the challenges that arise. The diversity of my team was reflected in the different socioeconomic statuses of its participants, the various specializations and skills, different upbringing and ethnic descent, as well as any other nuances that set individuals apart from one another (Padamsee & Crowe, 2019). Even though managing a diverse team calls for high levels of cultural competence and emotional intelligence, I understood that students-participants of the workshop would be from different backgrounds, and a similar team is needed for the event’s planning and organization.
Budgeting and Financial Concerns
The following week of the mentorship, after gathering a team was dedicated to leadership training as related to budgeting. This stage was the most complicated for me as I was unaware of how budgeting for events worked, nor was I skilled enough to know exactly what costs the youth engagement workshop would entail. Because I could not address the part of the project on my own, Mr. Linson advised me to reach out to the financial director and coordinator of the outreach department to discuss with them the expenses and budget planning. The experience dealing with budgetary issues has taught me that a leader cannot do everything on their own; in fact, when there is too much responsibility in the hands of one person, the success of a project is under question. For event leadership, it is important to delegate responsibilities and problem-solving to persons that are more knowledgeable and competent than the leader on such matters.
When working on budgeting, I realized that the planning of the event is not only concerned with having the right resources and people who can facilitate smooth implementation. It is also imperative to have the right idea and the right message communicated to the target audience of an event and that their needs are being met, even though they are changing. In the non-profit organization environment where resource availability can be scarce and target audience expectations are volatile, it is essential that leaders have a plan of backup in addition to the principal one. The advice provided by the financial director was that in any project, it was crucial to initially assess the capabilities of the needed resources and avoid over-allocating them for anything. Within situations of project crises, under-allocation is less stressful to manage in the long run.
The Final Stage Reflection
The concluding part of the mentorship experience gave me a lot of room for thought and reflection on what I learned and how the acquired knowledge can be used in the future. Even though the mentorship took place for eight weeks, the journey taught me a lot about what it takes to become a leader, both the exciting and challenging. Drawing from the example of Mr. Linson as my mentor, I acquired critical insight into servant leadership, the importance of diversity, team building, as well as the minutia of non-profit business organizations.
First, I would like to reflect more on what I learned about servant leadership and draw a connection with Christian teachings. Reading Cafferky’s (2015) Business Ethics in Biblical Perspective, I got to see that Jesus was the ultimate servant leader. His servant leadership is reflected in developing and promoting a compelling vision of a brighter future for His followers, getting people to believe in the vision enough, developing leadership qualities in other people, as well as executing the vision effectively. Jesus as a leader, put the interests of others before his, which allowed him to develop strong and trusting relationships with his followers (Crowther, 2018). The purpose of His work was to get freedom for prisoners, recover the sight of the blind, set the oppressed free, proclaim good news to the impoverished, and proclaim God’s power. Thus, Jesus had a vision of his leadership, and that vision created a clear mental picture of what the future can be, as supported by the conviction of how it must be.
Second, I will reflect on the importance of diversity in an organizational context, especially in non-profits. Having a non-profit board with diverse perspectives and backgrounds is crucial. With the help of diverse experiences, levels of expertise, and views on social issues, it is possible to improve the capacity of an organization to respond to external influences that influence the environments of those being served by a non-profit organization (National Council of Nonprofits, n.d.). In addition, there is a possibility of improved decision-making supported by the increased levels of diversity as teams have better qualifications for identifying the full range of risks and opportunities that come with various issues. In addition, I have learned to recognize that non-profit teams that are not diverse are at risk of stagnation. Therefore, when working on developing a team for a non-profit, it is essential to consider the existing culture at the organization, especially whether it is welcoming to members from diverse backgrounds. As a leader, when inviting people to join the team, I want them to feel comfortable and get engaged with the vision and mission that I am pursuing. With the help of cultural sensitivity, it is possible to make sure that the diverse members of a group feel valued and accepted, which will increase the chances of them remaining engaged in their work.
Third, the experience was instrumental for me to reflect on my personal perspectives of leadership as well as the existing advantages and disadvantages that can either facilitate or hinder leadership success. Being put on the spot of having to reflect on individual perspectives was often complicated because I could not be objective and unbiased enough to evaluate myself as a leader. When asked to think about my strengths, I had to spend a lot of time analyzing my behaviors and interactions with others. Besides, I had to note the feedback that Mr. Linson was giving to me to ensure that I had a well-rounded idea of how I approached my leadership work. When it comes to leadership weaknesses, I encountered several issues that I could quickly point out, which allowed me to develop goals for future leadership improvement. As a result, I realized that much of the work that I was doing was not only linked to servant leadership but also in reflective leadership, which represents the way of approaching the work of a leader through self-improvement and presence. Learning to be aware of one’s experience and be present in each moment by paying attention to experience is the focus of reflective leadership. The ongoing reflection improved my self-awareness skills, which are imperative to facilitate a well-rounded approach to leadership. Knowing one’s values, characteristics of personality, as well as habits and emotions, can help a leader improve their capacity to manage stress and ultimately make better decisions in the long run.
Another significant advantage of my leadership approach was to relate to active listening. As I reflected on the experience, I understood that Mr. Linson often engaged in active listening as a means of encouraging a better quality of communication between him and team members. I found similarities between Mr. Linson and myself as we both use active listening to fully understand what is being said to us as well as note the emotions beyond the spoken word that are conveyed non-verbally (Cuncic, 2020). For a team, knowing that a leader cares about them and appreciates their thoughts and feelings makes each person valued as a worker and individual, which is an important contributor to driving engagement.
Personal Leadership Philosophy Development
The leadership mentorship experience has been instrumental in allowing me to develop personal philosophy principles that can be used in my future work. I recognized that I want to pursue the servant leadership style, manifested through leading by putting the team’s interests above my own. I would like to lead in such a way that will enable my team to become personally and professionally fulfilled, which will allow them to exhibit a high quality of work and do it more productively and efficiently. In my opinion, the servant leadership philosophy can positively contribute to employee satisfaction and collaboration between team members. Besides, servant leadership is applicable in any type of business, and in non-profit contexts, it has shown to be especially beneficial. I am looking to follow the servant leadership philosophy and apply its principles in my work because I want my team to feel respected, valued, and appreciated. Moreover, by showing the example of servant leadership, I can encourage the positive qualities in the team who learn to value each other and support one another throughout their non-profit work. I think that establishing a business that follows the servant leadership philosophy will enable a stronger and more welcoming work culture with high levels of workers’ morale and engagement.
The main principles that I want to adopt within my servant leadership philosophy include empathy, awareness, healing, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of others, and community building. Empathy is an important principle that must be embedded into one’s servant leadership philosophy because a leader usually cares about a team on a personal level. I want to understand what makes my future team happy and fulfilled. In addition, I will make it a priority of me as a leader to show my team that I care about them personally and will help them to overcome the challenges that they may be facing. Awareness will help support the principle of empathy because it helps a leader accept their weaknesses and grow from them. Similarly, as a leader, I will be aware of my future team’s advantages and disadvantages and help them evolve as individuals and professionals.
In the non-profit context of a religious organization, healing is an important principle because it will help me understand the importance of addressing previous problems before moving on to new goals and projects. For instance, it is common for a team to have a disagreement on the way in which a non-profit event should be advertised, which causes a setback in project planning and implementation. As a servant leader, I will step in and act as a mediator to resolve the disagreement by finding compromise and facilitate healing to ensure that there is no ‘bad blood’ between team members. Foresight goes hand-in-hand with the principle of healing because it will allow me to learn from past mistakes and victories, using the lessons to evaluate future leadership decisions.
The principle of stewardship will be exhibited through acknowledging and understanding the importance of servant leadership responsibilities. I will protect and uphold the confidence and trust given to me in the leadership role and communicate it to my team. A leader performs the act of stewardship in cases when they are strengthening for the future vitality of their organizations. As a steward of a non-profit organization, I will have to safeguard the assets and goals, work hard, be dependable, and arrive on time. The commitment to the growth of other people ties closely to the principle of stewardship because of the need to motivate workers to grow personally and professionally. Servant leadership is a philosophy that will allow me to help team members become leaders themselves through leading by example and providing different opportunities for growth and development.
The final part of my leadership philosophy is concerned with community building through collaboration and consistent engagement. As a future leader of a non-profit organization serving the needs of the local community. I plan to value the opinions of everyone in the team and encourage sharing them to facilitate high levels of engagement in the work process. In addition, embracing a sense of community is possible through reaching to like-minded entities that have similar goals and target the needs of the same target groups. Besides, it is expected that leaders who give more praise rather than critique have the capacity to empower those who want to become active in a certain community. The sense of camaraderie that can be enabled with the help of positive feedback and building connections with like-minded individuals can help communities thrive. Once trusting and supportive relationships develop, every member of a community can lead by bringing out the best in others and putting in the strongest work that can ever be done. As a servant leader, I will leverage the talents and expertise of others to produce exceptional outcomes and build a strong and successful community.
I plan on using the concept of servant leadership as the philosophical framework to be used in my future career working at a non-profit organization. There are expectations of me as a leader to be empathetic, engaging, and inspirational, which will allow me to build a sense of community and instill the sense of community that is crucial for meeting the established goals. I understand that servant leadership is similar to art, and there is no single approach that fits every setting. However, the fruits of servant leadership work can be bountiful as followers are more likely to be driven by a purpose and will perform at a high and innovative level (Warren, 2013). Besides, well-trained and trusted team members will further develop into leaders themselves, thus helping to ensure long-term organizational viability.
Therefore, to reap the fruits of my labor, several things must happen first. Ultimately, approaching servant leadership begins with an unselfish mindset, and failure is almost always guaranteed when a leader has selfish motivations. Also, it will take time and dedication to establish a workplace environment in which servant leadership can thrive and bring the best results possible. Finally, there are certain behaviors that a leader should exhibit and practice regularly. For servant leadership, it is not only about what is being done but also how it is being done.
The leadership mentorship experience has opened my eyes to what it takes to be a leader within the non-profit organization setting and encouraging me to consider servant leadership as the key philosophy for future work. Being a leader does not mean succeeding professionally and meeting personal goals within such a philosophy. Instead, a leader assumes the role of a servant and puts the interests of their workers first. In the non-profit context, this style of leadership will help me put the interests of the community that I serve above my own and inspire others to share my vision. The conversations with Mr. Linson, as well as meetings with a non-profit team, gave me a deeper insight into what it takes to run such an organization, both the positive and the negative. Besides, I learned about the importance of hiring a diverse team of professionals who can offer a comprehensive perspective on each challenge and find appropriate solutions. Even though there are various problems that come with running a non-profit, ranging from a limited budget to personnel retention, having a purpose and leading through a vision can bring brilliant results.
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