How to Teach Your Board About Servant Leadership

Dear Dan,

I’m wondering what advice you have regarding ‘selling’ humble leadership to boards, specifically School Boards.

In my experience, they view humility in leadership as a lack of strength and ability to ‘make the tough decisions.’


Just Wondering

Dear Wondering,

School Boards in the United States are are growing in diversity. 44 percent of members are female. In large districts, 21.8 percent of school boards members surveyed are African-American and six percent are Latino.

Visit: NSBA for FAQs regarding School Boards.

Servant leadership:

90 percent are concerned about an overly narrow focus on student achievement. In other words, most Board Members are committed to serving students. It’s an easy leap into a discussion of servant leadership.


Set aside 10 minutes at the beginning of Board meetings to define and discuss servant leadership. Humility is central to the discussion.

Discussion questions:

Here are a year’s worth of discussion questions for any Board. Use one question at the beginning of each monthly meeting.

  1. What are your definitions of humble/arrogant leadership?
  2. How might humility be stronger than arrogance?
  3. How might humility impact teaching and learning?
  4. How might humble leaders better embrace values than arrogant leaders?
  5. What are the traits of humble communication compared to arrogant communication?
  6. What is the relationship between humility, arrogance, and service?
  7. How do you see humility and arrogance at play in relationships?
  8. How does humility/arrogance impact the strength of teams and organization?
  9. What differences do you see between humble and arrogant posture, tone, and language?
  10. What are the strengths of humility and the weaknesses of arrogance?
  11. How have humble leaders impacted you? How might we emulate humble leaders?
  12. How might humble leaders be better at making tough decisions?

You might ask each board member to make a brief presentation to get the ball rolling.

What suggestions do you have for Just Wondering?

Tip: Honor humble leaders at Board meetings.