One of the wonderful aspects of all conferences held at Caux palace in Switzerland is that they really foster the sense of community spirit. Each delegate, facilitator, workshop leader, organiser and everyone else involved gets to help each other to make the conference run smoothly. This is done by getting everyone to take part in a range of suitable work shifts, regardless of age, status, race, religion, gender or any other factor. This means that everyone can appreciate that we are all equal on a human level, all deserve to be served, to serve others and that we all have something to give.
What is servant leadership?
Servant leadership is described in a great deal of detail in many books. The most notable being by Robert K. Greenleaf. Here I will only provide a short overview. It is important to know that there are different types and styles of leadership, some with the leader dictating at the top, others with leaders consulting their subordinates and all sorts of other structures in between.
Servant leadership proposes that a good leader of any group should not see themselves as ‘above’ the rest, but instead as an individual who puts the needs of their team or followers first. They will often share their status and powers as a leader to benefit other people and ensure that their needs are met. These needs may be physical, intellectual, spiritual or emotional. Servant leaders ensure that the people they engage with are always growing as a result of their work.
Servant leadership can also be very literal. To serve others in basic human ways such as serving food, holding doors open, cleaning and showing people to their rooms is ensuring that their needs are met . When a leader takes time to act servantly rather than delegating these tasks to someone of ‘lower status’ then it shows humility as an individual and respect for those you serve. Servant leaders know that everyone should be respected equally and has something to offer, which is why they set the example of serving others.
The Caux Work Shifts
The CATS conference here at Caux is being attended by around 310 delegates as well as the organising staff, building staff and core team. This means there are a lot of people whose needs have to be met over the course of the conference. And who better to support you than your fellow delegates?
Caux conferences run efficiently and with a sense of community because all participants sign up to multiple work shifts across the week. This may include loading dishes into the dishwasher, setting tables, making beds, serving food, chopping vegetables, serving drinks and other household tasks. The building team receive their volunteers for each shift and set them to work serving those around them. Everyone gets involved and helps however they can. Even the children participate in tasks suited to their age (keeping away from kitchen based work).
By putting all delegates onto a level playing field it sends a clear message that we are all equal in many key ways. We all deserve respect as a human beings and we should always be willing to serve someone else in need. The process of working together also acts as a fantastic opportunity for delegates to meet each other, talk and bond – making the whole conference even more cohesive.
We look forward to serving each other here. What can you do where you are to become a servant leader in your community?
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