servant leadership

Co-op CEO’s, Servant Leadership, and the CoopValues Difference

Underneath the main stairway of the Nashville Convention Center, I met with the individual who had just concluded his keynote address to over 3,000 people attending the 2018 National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Annual Meeting. Kevin Eikenberry, Chief Potential Officer of the Eikenberry Group, spoke on “The Legacy of Leadership” with the emphasis on cooperative’s ‘building our business, by building our people”. One of Kevin’s key points in his keynote address was that with the upcoming retirement of more than 50% of electric cooperative CEO’s within the next 5 years, that local cooperatives needed to be thinking about affirming a CULTURE of SERVANT LEADERSHIP in the selection of their new CEO’s.

My personal meeting with Kevin Eikenberry in 2018 re-affirmed my commitment to communicate the values of Servant Leadership within the local co-op where I served as the CEO, and to encourage our local cooperative Board of Trustees to consider the values undergirding Servant Leadership when they interviewed candidates as my replacement upon retirement in 2019. 


CoopValues seeks to promote a culture within cooperatives focused on serving others first. Through the medium of online training as well as online mentoring, CoopValues supports a MINDSET that seeks the greater good for many rather than for just a few. This greater good is primarily focused on the growth and well-being of PEOPLE, and the growth and well-being of the COMMUNITY.

Co-op CEO’s set the culture for their organizations. The top ten characteristics of a Servant Leader/CEO are:

  1. LISTENING – cultivating a culture of trust through a deep commitment to listening intently to others
  2. EMPATHY – accepting and recognizing people for their special and unique giftedness.
  3. SUPPORTIVE – offering opportunities for personal development outside of normal job-related expectations. Assisting people with life issues and supporting work/life balance.
  4. AWARENESS – maintaining a general awareness among the organization regarding ethics, power and values.
  5. PERSUASION – seeking to convince others rather than coercing compliance through one’s positional authority.
  6. CONCEPTUALIZATION – a servant leader thinks about the next generation, creating long-term strategies today with what will be beneficial in the future.
  7. FORESIGHT – analyzes and understands lessons from the past … realities of the present … and consequences of decisions on the future of the cooperative.
  8. STEWARDSHIP – embracing the responsibility that the cooperative exists for the greater good of society and serving others.
  9. GROWTH OF PEOPLE – recognizes the responsibility to do everything possible to nurture personal and professional growth in others.
  10. BUILDING COMMUNITY – encourages teamwork focused on group purposes and outcomes.


Kevin Eikenberry will serve among the 40 “SERVANT LEADERSHIP SUMMIT” presenters, speaking online Friday, March 27th. This FREE Summit will bring clarity regarding the concept of Servant Leadership for cooperative employees, senior management and boards. The Summit will be a solid overview and introduction for the upcoming “Wired Differently” course, being offered online at CoopValues beginning May 1st, 2020.


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