As we planned this year’s 40 Leaders Under Forty celebration, we asked a number of alumni to reflect on their varying paths to leadership. What we consistently heard was not a recitation of personal achievements, but rather, an emphasis on service to a cause greater than one’s own ambition.
“Whether it was being on the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters, whether it was being involved in the local Y or Junior Achievement, what I saw is that I took more from them than what I was giving,” explains Calvin Butler (40 Leaders Class of 1995), now chief executive officer of Baltimore Gas and Electric Company, the nation’s oldest gas utility.
And so we find that in service to others, we get more than we give. As Mahatma Gandhi famously said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” That is the essence of servant leadership— and it’s what drives many of the remarkable individuals you will read about in these pages.
At the core of the servant leadership model is humility—the “flavor du jour” among executives, writes Joann S. Lublin in The Wall Street Journal. “Companies increasingly prize humble leaders because they listen well, admit mistakes and share the limelight.” But that humility, she adds, must be authentic: “Faux humility annoys people.”
Servant leadership promotes collaboration and teamwork—qualities that are not only essential in business today, but are valuable in all walks of life. Often, it’s humility which allows us to lead.
Here we are in 2015—22 years after Peoria’s first 40 Leaders Under Forty class was recognized—and not only do we continue to see young leaders rise to the occasion, we benefit directly from the work of those who came before them. We applaud you for your achievements thus far, but more importantly, we look ahead to the future.
“Having recognition from your peers and community leaders that you are on the right path means a lot,” Butler says. “It means: job well done, we expect great things, work hard not to disappoint, and continue to try to deliver excellence in everything you do.
“People are looking for you to provide leadership,” he adds. “At the end of the day, we'll be measured by the impact we left on the community.”
Congratulations to the 2015 class of leaders! Your impact has been tremendous—and we can’t wait to see where you go from here. iBi