St. Joseph Home

Pillars in Action: Servant Leadership


When I first learned that I would be contributing to the St. Joseph Home “Community Conversation” by sharing an observation about our pillars in action, I immediately thought about my friend and mentor, Greg Cox. Over the two years that I have been employed as the Day Program Manager, I have witnessed Greg representing all four of our foundational pillars. He is quick to share information about the heritage of St. Joseph Home, act as a gentle presence, be a servant leader, and play a role in the establishment of community. For me, the challenge was not what or who I should write about, but which pillar will best represent him from my perspective. After some consideration of the role in which Greg has played during my tenure with this wonderful organization, I believe that he has impacted me most as a servant leader.

Servant Leadership is a phrase that was coined by Robert Greenleaf during the 70’s. It is not a new concept and many organizations globally have chosen to thread this philosophy into their leadership style. However, I did not come to St. Joseph Home with familiarity in servant leadership. In truth, it was a difficult concept to understand as the two words – servant and leader – have opposing meanings. I wondered how a person could be both.  Now I have come to know that to be truly influential as a leader, one must act as a servant first. In a journal article titled, “Character and Servant Leadership:  Ten Characteristics of Effective, Caring Leaders”, author Larry C. Spears distills Greenleaf’s servant leadership down into ten characteristics:  listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and building community. Greg possesses many, if not all, of these characteristics.

From the beginning, Greg has acted in a servant role. He was my mentor at the Day Program when I started at St. Joseph Home, gently pushing me along, helping to build my confidence, pruning my wings until he felt, and I felt, I was ready to fly. In the time since, he has made himself available to me, coming to my aid when I was unable to make a deadline, picking up the slack when I needed it most. I know that I can call on him for help at a moment’s notice and he will be there. When I feel as if I am not making the impact that I believed I would, he will listen as I share my woes, supplying empathy, and at times sympathy, then will build me up again, reinforcing my confidence. He provides vision and perspective, yet gives me space to form and voice my own opinion.  Greg, I appreciate you and all that you have done to support me in being successful. You truly care about this organization, its growth, and development. I appreciate the time and energy you have invested in me. I hope I am able to provide that same servant leadership to others at St. Joseph Home, as you have done for me.

By: Amy Hess, Day Program Manager