A Model of Servant Leadership (Chicago)

2017 RightNow Conference Chicago


Many churches operate using a corporate pyramid model: the “important” people are at the top, while the “less important” people are at the bottom. What we should be using to think about leadership is a peach tree model. The CEO is on the ground, providing resources, stability, and structure, so the peaches (those in working roles) can ripen into sweet fruit. In this 30-minute session from the 2017 RightNow Conference in Orlando, Donnie Smith shares about the qualities that characterize servant leaders.

Donnie Smith is the former CEO of Tyson Foods. Donnie's contagious enthusiasm characterized his time at Tyson, influencing more than 110,000 Team Members. Appointed to his role in 2009, his passion was the hallmark of his tenure at the company, which he joined in 1980.




Servant leaders are marked by their heart, their head, and their hands. When they serve to root their church or organization, those under their care flourish. 

Donnie mentioned that many churches and organizations use a corporate pyramid structure, which causes people to be driven by fear and pride. How might you currently be driven by fear and pride? Do you see these motivations in your people?
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What are practical ways you can begin to dismantle these motivations and create a culture of confident humility?
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Donnie cast vision for a peach tree leadership model. The leaders are represented as down in the ground, providing resources, stability, structure, and direction. A leader in this model exists to serve the peaches. 

How are you asking your "peaches" what they need? What might be their answer if someone were to ask them that question?
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In what ways do you provide resources, stability, and structure to your people?
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There are four distinctive qualities in the heart of every servant leader: care, courage, purpose, and principles.  

In what tangible ways are you showing people you care? How might your actions or attitude communicate a lack of care?
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Have you ever been tempted to allow your standard of living take priority over your standards for living? What was the result?
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Donnie gave four tips for creating a cohesive team: defining purpose, unleashing skills through training, creating team power, and keeping things positive through recognition. 

In what ways have you recognized and rewarded your team? How might your recognition encourage and foster hard work in the future?
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Finally, Donnie examined what a servant leader does with his or her hands. Servant leaders lead from the middle of the pack, are accountable and responsible, and surround themselves with outstanding people. 

Have you been elevating yourself to be outside and above your people, or are you in among them? How are you maintaining a humble and approachable demeanor?
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Take the time to reflect on the qualities of your team. Why did you choose these people in the first place? What invaluable qualities make them crucial to your team?
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Servant leaders are distinctly different than selfish leaders. By being intentional with the heart, the head, and the hands, a leader can cultivate a “peach tree” model, rather than a corporate pyramid. 


For more information about the RightNow Conference, or to find out how to attend next year’s event, visit rightnowconference.org.