The College of Business has had the unique privilege of hosting a wide variety of outstanding speakers. From the Women in Business Symposium to the CEO in Residence, each speaker brings a unique perspective to their presentation. These events take an enormous amount of planning, networking, and fundraising to bring them to fruition.
The man behind these events, Dean Hamid Akbari, makes the College of Business an outstanding place to learn and connect. In Spring 2019, Dean Akbari spoke to the students, faculty, and Winona community members at Winona State University on servant leadership.
Dean Akbari spoke about servant leadership four years ago, when he first arrived at Winona State. His most-recent speech served as a reflection of his talk four years ago and provided new insights into how servant leadership empowers everyone. Dean Akbari provided several examples of servant leaders, including Jane Goodall, who dedicated her life to the study and preservation of chimpanzees, and Korczak and Ruth Ziolkowski, who dedicated their lives to the monument “Crazy Horse.” Dean Akbari focused on what he had learned from these servant leaders as well as Winona’s own John Latsch, who inspired the new John Latsch Leadership Academy.
The John Latsch Leadership Academy
The John Latsch Leadership Academy was founded to encourage servant leadership at Winona State University. The academy brings student leaders together to learn from one another and be mentored by Dean Akbari. The academy members follow the principles of John Latsch, serving as good stewards of the land and operating in the best interests of the community. This collaboration with John Latsch Leadership Academy serves as an excellent example of how the Winona community fosters and sponsors servant leaders.
A Unique Model for Leadership
Compared to traditional leadership models, servant leadership is unique in itself as it is designed around the needs of others. Servant leaders make decisions based on a higher purpose, rather than self-centric motives. They seek to inspire others, encouraging growth and development from all those who follow them. Servant leaders seek to be good stewards of the earth, so that others may benefit from all the beautiful resources provided naturally.
The concept of servant leadership is particularly profound when considering the traditional business model: profits over all else. When stewardship of nature and the creatures that inhabit a planet become the top priority, rather than profits, everyone benefits. This is not to say that profits and money are not important. Rather, it is using profitability and money in ways that benefit the greater good and allow new opportunities for many years to come.
Servant First, Leader Second
Dean Akbari’s speech was particularly profound and reminded attendees of the importance of generosity and service. Through his examples, engaging style, and remarkable insights, Dean Akbari illuminated how servant leadership benefits everyone and its place within the Winona community. He highlighted areas in which Winona does incredibly well, along with new opportunities we can use to grow together. Servant leadership serves everyone. As you journey forward, please remember the various ways in which you can serve your community. We can serve in a way that cares for both our needs, as well as those of the planet. We can inspire education through compassionate interaction. There are countless opportunities to engage as a servant leader and connect with the world around you. Always remember, you are a servant first and a leader second.