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Gonzaga Role Expands for World’s Top Servant-Leadership Scholar Larry Spears

Larry C. Spears, the world’s foremost scholar in the field of servant leadership, will be appointed as the Gonzaga University School of Professional Studies’ inaugural Servant Leadership Scholar, effective Tuesday, Aug. 24. Spears has been affiliated in multiple ways with Gonzaga University and its many leadership programs for the past three years, teaching undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral students. Photo courtesy of Larry C. Spears.

Larry C. Spears, the world’s foremost scholar in the field of servant leadership, is the Gonzaga University School of Professional Studies’ inaugural Servant Leadership Scholar.

By Peter Tormey

SPOKANE, Wash. — Larry C. Spears, the world’s foremost scholar in the field of servant-leadership, is the Gonzaga University School of Professional Studies’ inaugural Servant Leadership Scholar.

Spears has been affiliated in multiple ways with Gonzaga and its many leadership programs for the past three years, teaching undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral students. He has illumined the life and work of Robert K. Greenleaf, the founder of servant-leadership and the person who first coined the term, by publishing hundreds of articles, essays, newsletters, books and other publications on servant-leadership worldwide. Spears is president and CEO of the Indianapolis-based Larry C. Spears Center for Servant-Leadership, Inc., founded in 2008. He served for 17 years (1990-2007) as president and CEO of the Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant-Leadership. Greenleaf coined the phrase “servant-leadership” in “The Servant as Leader,” a 1970 essay he published.

Many of the top 20 organizations in Fortune Magazine’s annual list of the 100 Best Companies to Work for are purposefully servant-led companies, including Starbucks, Southwest Air, and TDIndustries, said Professor Shann Ferch, chair of Gonzaga’s Doctoral Program in Leadership Studies. “Perhaps most importantly, Larry’s understanding of the interior of the leader, listening, and foresight, have become foundational to personal and organizational discernment in servant-leadership,” Ferch said.

The Servant Leadership Scholar designation aims to honor Spears’ international academic contributions, recognize Gonzaga’s connection to him, and ensure Gonzaga students will have direct access to the world’s preeminent thought leader in servant leadership for years to come.

“Larry has given readers, writers, and practitioners a profound depth of wisdom, practical application, and soulful understanding on a leadership way of life that has begun to unseat the traditional command and control leadership methodologies and in turn evoke in society the capacity for self-transcendence and individual and collective responsibility across all spectrums of human endeavor,” Ferch said.

In an interview while on campus last month, Spears said he has become profoundly impressed with the Gonzaga University community, which he said models the best of servant servant leadership:

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During the past 20 years, Spears has helped shape global understanding and awareness of servant-leadership. His conception of the 10 characteristics of servant-leadership, gleaned from his in-depth study of Greenleaf’s works, has become a significant and enduring contribution to the field worldwide.

“His past years leading the Greenleaf Center and his current role as president of The Spears Center for Servant-Leadership have propelled a healthy and robust groundswell of servant-leadership in the United States and abroad,” Ferch said. “A direct reflection of this can be seen in significant quantitative and qualitative research on servant-leadership, under way in Europe, Australia, North and South America, and Asia.”

Spears’ more than 10 books on servant-leadership, including the best-seller “Insights on Leadership,” continue to reach a wide international audience. His most recent essays include “Myers-Briggs and Servant-Leadership,” and “Seekers Anonymous.”

“In my view, Gonzaga University is a remarkable living laboratory of servant-leadership,” Spears said. “The spirit of servant-leadership is easy to see in its mission, and in its people.”

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