News - Blend of Leadership and Service Score On and Off the Court

Blend of Leadership and Service Score On and Off the Court

By Carla Morris

In a culture that favors strength, the marriage of “humility” with “leadership” seems counterintuitive, but a study cited by Harvard Business Review tells leaders to give humility a try . . . they’ll be glad they did.

It turns out that managers who model humility create an environment where others thrive. Good leaders are humble leaders.

Janisha PealerThis news bodes well for students like recent graduate Janisha Pealer ’17, who embrace the chemistry of servant-leadership through activities in sports and campus organizations.

Janisha, co-president of MOSAIC Diversity Group on the campus of Greenville University (formerly Greenville College) was also the first Panther volleyball player in school history to serve as team captain for three successive years.

When Janisha stepped onto the court as a freshman, she not only stepped into a winning tradition (the Lady Panthers regularly claim conference championships), but she also stepped into a culture that cultivates a servant’s heart.

“You will gain more from serving this team than you will ever give,” she quotes from the team’s Champ Book, a guide the players read together each year before the start of a season.

She has learned that leadership and service go hand in hand.

Learning From Others

“Initially, I thought that being a captain was all about what I could contribute to our team,” Janisha explains. “I was wrong. I quickly learned that leaders are just as capable of learning from those they serve.”

She credits teammate Allyson Mitchell with teaching her a solid work ethic, just as she credits others with teaching her how to give her best effort and respond to adversity with grace and patience.

Researchers say that a leader’s altruism and “acts of humility” like learning from criticism and admitting mistakes, draw positive behaviors from team members—exceeding expectations, for example, or picking up the slack when the team is shorthanded.

Surrounded By a Culture of Service

Today, Nathan Hood ’15 reflects on servant-leadership from his position as an employment specialist with St. Louis Arc. He supports about 35 disabled persons as they perform their jobs for various organizations throughout St. Louis.  

He is no stranger to guiding others. As a college student, Nathan served as presidentNSO Service of the student association at Greenville University.

He recalls as a freshman, joining his classmates in building a nature trail through a wooded area owned by the school. Professors, staff and local alumni joined in the work too.

Later, Nathan volunteered to work in an after-school program through The Simple Room, a local youth service organization. He and dozens of other college students kept Simple Room programs humming.

MAE Simple RoomProfessors, emeriti professors, college staff and alumni contributed in various capacities, from serving on the Simple Room's board to tutoring youth and partnering with them to cultivate the Simple Room's community garden.

A Culture of Humble Service

Nathan’s experiences on campus put him in touch with past presidents of the school. He observed that they continued to give generously of their resources and time. He saw professors as well, who made the academic community “their mission field.”

“My years at Greenville placed me in the middle of a community built and sustained by servant leaders,” he says.

His experience, like Janisha’s, confirms what research tells us—that leaders with humble hearts strengthen "team" and help others to flourish.

Learn More

Work-Life Integration – Millennials Value Merger of Career and Service
Richard Huston Named Volunteer of the Year
Beyond the Walls: Greenville College Prison Program
Calling: Coaches Helper
Literacy Program Partners MAE-Program With The Simple Room

As a Greenville University Financial Champion, you can help make servant leadership a reality for students like Janisha and Nathan. Click here to give. 

This story was published on July 17, 2017

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